Buying a Hobby Through the Flea Market – Part 1

Fourteen months ago I finally took a step in a new direction when I committed to beginning my new hobby, which is to create a large model railroad layout. How large? Well in sheer table top square footage it comes in at 98.5. But I plan on having more than one level around my city scene, so I suppose it can edge up past 120-130 square feet.That is basically the equivalent of a 10 x 12 or 10 x 13 room. I don’t know how many of you have checked the prices on model railroading gear, but to use some bad grammar, it ain’t cheap!

So what’s a guy to do for model railroading gear? One alternative is to shop at a flea market. Model railroading is a HUGE hobby with gobs of gear spread out and manufactured all over the world. As with all manufactured items with any king of durability, they are collected and resold some times over and over again. So if you are a knowledgeable shopper, meaning you know what new costs and what a good used item should look like, you can do very well scrounging through flea markets.

That was how I got my first serious collection. I happened in to a local flea market on a Saturday and stumbled across an estate sale collection. It had track, engines, rolling stock, buildings, switches, figures, paints, lights and more. For $200 I got a heck of a bargain. As I began to sort through all of it I continued to see more items tucked here and there that I did not identify when I first found the collection.

Once I had a sense of what was in this varied collection I turned an eye toward the specific pieces I would incorporate into my layout. It is a fluid thing that, changing not in great measures but more on a small scale as I map out specific scenes I want to create in sections of my benches.

As I began to delineate what I felt I would use I began to sell the extra items on eBay. Then with the resulting funds I turn them back into purchasing specific items I do not already have. In this method I keep from having a tremendous outlay. If you have been around the hobby long you understand how expensive it can be.

This is the first of a series covering my flea market adventures. I will be posting soon about two other purchases.





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