Only a few weeks remain to do a little treasure-hunting at what has been, for a decade now, one of the worst-kept secrets of community life in North Bellmore: the Bellmore Lions Club Flea Market, held on most weeks in the parking fields of the train station from mid-July to mid-December.
The market, which attracts dozens of vendors and hundreds if not thousands of visitors and a virtual trove of the trivial, the unexpected and the unforgettable, is the brainchild of Lions member Roy Weinman, and has become a major fundraising element in supporting food pantries, work with the visually impaired, youth activities, and many other service programs offered by the Lions.
"The idea was actually my wife Myrna's," said Weinman, who in his 'civilian' life operates a hardward store in Bellmore. "We used to have an antique store in town, and she thought it would be a nice idea to start up a small operation on Sundays. The idea was basically to have an outdoor place to display antiques and collectibles, and handcrafted items -- very little new merchandise."
It started with 15-20 vendors and a small number of curiosity-seekers, but grew quickly from there. "Now we have well over 100 vendors, and people come from all over. Depending on the weather, we are filled to capacity -- people love it. It's like a treasure hunt."
Some of the vendors at the flemarket have been coming for ten years, others are new, Weinman said.
Among the long-time vendors on hand this weekend was Pete Hurney, whose table included CB radios, 8-track players, transistor radios, and a host of other old and exotic radio-electronic devices.
"This is a great flea market," he said. "I've been to all the markets, some the prices are lower, some higher. Some the cost of a table is higher, some nothing. They set a good table price here, and seem to get the right people. This market has a lot of variety."
And the kind of people he meets at the market? "They're just interesting," said Hurney while pointing to the table. "Like the guy who came by today with fishing tackle, and asked, 'see what you can do with it.' I said sure, they're on display now."
Nancy, another vendor with a table full of collectible statuary, trays, chinaware and other items, admitted it was her first time at the Bellmore market. "But I will come back," she said. "It's just more interesting here. Older stuff, more variety."
According to Weinman, the attraction of a flea market is varied, but goes far beyond simple bargain hunting.
"We've seen an uptick because of the economy," he said. "Shoppers seem to be bargain conscious. But basically, people are here because of the unexpected. It's a little like a treasure hunt."
The Bellmore Lions' flea market alternates with another flea market on the fields of the railroad station weekly, and emphasizes that it shares parking space with a local church that utilizes some of the parking nearby. Remaining dates this season are Dec. 5, 12 and 19. For more information drop by Weinman's Hardware on Bedford Avenue in Bellmore, or phone 516-785-0222.