Shopping

A First-Timer’s Guide to Canton’s First Monday Trade Days

Flea market pro Brittany Cobb shares her top tips for shopping the East Texas market.

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Brittany Cobb, Flea Style

Brittany Cobb, owner of lifestyle brand/flea market/e-commerce shop Flea Style, has been junking at the First Monday Trade Days in Canton for 10 years. “I have shopped markets all over the world, and at least half of my favorite pieces hail from Canton,” she says. Cobb shares with us her favorite spots to treasure hunt, where to cool off (hint: it involves ice cream), and what to bring.

Favorite Areas to Shop

I stay outside in the fields behind the Civic Center. I love the fields because that’s where the random, quirky, funky finds are. I’ve bought everything from Mexican painted pottery to faux fur jackets and a Hollywood Regency coffee table.

Areas to Avoid

I avoid The Arbors because most items are mass produced. I also covet many items inside the Civic Center, but prices are usually pretty steep compared to the fields.

Favorite Spot for a Snack

I love the brisket sandwich in the center field area and top if off with a diet A&W Root Beer.

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Pit stop! “I love the vintage trailer that serves fresh fruit ice cream. I usually have the peach.”

Where to Park

I always park at the Civic Center off Highway 64. It’s $5 and cash only.

Best Days and Times to Shop

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Cobb’s treasure includes a vintage batik antelope textile, African-inspired jewelry (“I about lost my marbles when I came across this woman from New Jersey on her way to Round Top with a massive African jewelry collection,” she says), vintage cowboy boots, a brass tray, and a vintage skull painted in an eagle design.

I prefer to go Thursday or Friday; I avoid weekends because it can get really crowded, but the later you go, the better the prices get. January can be really small; the shows right before Round Top get a lot of vendors gearing up for the that. Gloomy/drizzling days are best because most people don’t want to hit the fields and the vendors out there want to make sales. End of summer is hot as heck, but I’ve found some of my best deals those months.

What to Bring

I bring stacks of ones—vendors really appreciate it. I’m always in a hat because the fields have no protection. I stash some hand wipes in my cart to wipe my hands after digging all day. And a cart is mandatory.

Favorite Place to Dine

In Canton, Dairy Palace has the best bison burger. If I’m really hungry—often the case after shopping Canton all day—I will opt for one of their dozens of Blue Bell Ice Cream flavors.

Shopping With Kids

I love to bring my 5-year-old daughter with me. Each time, I give her five one-dollar bills that she can spend throughout the day. Our little ritual not only teaches her how to thoughtfully spend money, count change, and interact with adults, but it keeps her well-behaved because she’s excited and intrigued by the shopping experience and wants her money to last the entire day.

Comments

  • Jenz Yoder

    The trade centers have a lot of mass produced items. The arbors have alot of one of a kind things.

  • Lacey Crowell

    These tips were swell. I have lived in Canton almost my entire life and have worked @ First Monday for over 15 years. So needless to say… My opinions are very strong when it comes to what is considered the “best” down on the grounds. The Fresh Lemonade Store (the upside down sign) under the clock tower, has the best lemonade/limeades hands down. Best snack would be the “Kettle Korn” right next to it! Also just east of the Log Cabin there is a concession trailer that fries up chicharones fresh to order!. One of the only places I will eat (a meal) down there is the Panini place in The Original Pavilion. The “fields” also known as the unreserved area… is where you will find the more unique items and deals. The buildings are very repetitive and feels like you are walking through a housewife’s Pinterest board. Hope this helps.

    • Kristy Caudill

      Do you know where or if you can buy the chicharones anywhere else? Online maybe? Or do they have a store?
      Please reply
      [email protected]
      Thank you!!!

  • Thereasa Ramsey

    We have had a 40ft booth in the arbors for 15 years. Everything in it is 100% handmade by our family as are many many other booths in the Arbors. Also the Arbors have the most wonderful antiques and repurposed vintage furniture. Your comment “I avoid The Arbors because most items are mass produced.” tells me you really do not know anything about the arbors or have not been there at all.

  • Camille Fuller

    So happy you enjoyed the ice cream! That is my mother, Angela’s trailer. The Original Homemade Ice Cream, please stop by next time for a free scoop!

  • Camille Fuller

    So happy you enjoyed the ice cream! That is my mother Angela’s trailer. The Original Homemade Ice Cream (main aisle row 94, just look for the Aggie flag), please stop by next time for a free scoop for you and your little one!

  • Christyhicks

    We’ve been coming to Canton, as buyers, for probably fifteen years. I can truthfully say that in the past, we used to leave with piles of purchases, but as prices have steadily climbed and climbed, we seldom buy much of anything anymore. I can remember showing up in Thursday and not being able to find an Rv spot anywhere in town….ANYWHERE. One year, the Marketplace graciously allowed us to park next to the building and plug into a 120v receptacle, because there simply was nothing left! The vendors were wall to wall, from Hwy 19 back to the civic center and log Cabin….there wasn’t an open spot one! The buildings by the mountain were so full, that we often couldn’t find a parking spot during the day!
    Now, shoot, every year we come, fewer and fewer vendors show, and the ones that are here regularly have the same tired, over-priced items they couldn’t sell a year or two ago. The long buildings by the Mountain are almost completely empty! Of course, this is a broad generalization, and there are always a few new things to see, but seriously, when prices get so high that the buyers are walking around empty handed, and when you see the exact same items in booths for show after show after show, well, no wonder the whole market has gone downhill so drastically. We wonder what can be done to make things turn around, because this has always been our favorite place to go. It’s hard to describe the former glory of what was such an exciting show, to those who know Canton only from the last few years. I wonder if there is a solution or if it will just contue to whither.

  • Tina Ries

    I just moved to the DFW area 3 years ago. I have been to Canton twice…once on a quick trip with my husband on a Sunday and once for a weekend-long girl’s get away. Both times, I came away feeling underwhelmed. I wondered what the big deal was? I wish I could have seen it in its hey day. I really don’t like going now. Is Round Top any better? I had a friend come fly down from Denver where I am from to join us for the girl’s weekend and I don’t know how impressed she was either. Seems more hype than anything…I had hoped to find unique items, not stalls and stalls of mass produced items of the same thing—I was very disappointed to get an item I thought was unique and different in one building only to find the same thing in the next building. I ate a lot of pecans and did a lot of walking, that’s really what I came away from the place with…saw a lot of t-shirt/clothing vendors, multi-level marketing ventdors (LulaRue, Pampered Chef, Cutco, LipSense), lots of wooden signs, Arctic cups that could be monogrammed to your liking in any color you could want, I was hoping for much more interesting things…more antiques…and “Dog Alley” was simply horrific. I’m surprised PETA hasn’t been all over that place!