STOCKTON – Dale Caldwell walked up and down the aisles of the Delta College flea market Saturday morning looking for anything that might strike his fancy.
A lifelong Stockton resident, Caldwell just recently made his first trip to the massive weekend event and was blown away at both the number of vendors present and the prices on everything from tools to DVDs.
It’s something, he said, he’s going to make a regular part of his routine.
“I had no idea that this was here until a friend brought me out a little while ago – I’ve lived in Stockton my whole life and it was right here off of Pacific Avenue,” he said. “This is the third time I’ve been out here and I can’t believe the prices. You can buy DVDs for less than it costs to rent ‘em.
“I’m always on the lookout for anything and everything.”
Vendors peddling everything from food products to shoes to clothes to tools filled up two of Delta College’s parking lots early Saturday morning. The event is operated by the non-profit Delta College Foundation. Profits from the flea market that generates $500,000 a year is helping fund Delta’s Passport to College obligation that was essentially a promise of free tuition made to thousands of potential students when they were in sixth grade. The first freshmen from that promise group will arrive at Delta in 2014.
For Mike Estrada, the market provides an opportunity to draw new customers to his brick-and-mortar business.
The owner of Blue Star Collectables on Alpine Street in Stockton, Estrada had a handful of sports cards and memorabilia items on display at a table he shared with some Hot Wheels enthusiasts. He was chatting up football and baseball fans that stopped in to browse his wares.
But the market provides him with more than just an opportunity to sell.
“What I enjoy about this is that I not only to get to sell but to go out and look around and find stuff that we can use – get cards that maybe we can put into a new sleeve or case and clean up and use in the store,” he said. “We also get to hand out business cards and flyers to people who don’t know about the store that we have here in town.”
Estrada, a 49ers fan, said he enjoys getting the chance to meet the local athletes and gather the signatures himself – allowing him to pass on value to the customers that come though his door.
“I like the whole process of doing this – getting out and meeting the athletes and framing the pictures and getting them ready,” he said. “It allows us to make things a little bit more affordable than what people can find at the mall, and I think our customers appreciate that.”
Other residents like Lillian Phan try to make the flea market twice a month to browse for things that she can add to the new home that she recently purchased outside of French Camp.
“I like what they have here,” she said. “The people are nice and the atmosphere is good. There’s always something here for you to find.”