Huckster's Hall listed among top 11 flea markets in the state

Staff Writer Kate Wehlann

Being in the top 10 in anything is usually a good thing. It means more, though, coming from people who really know what they're talking about.

Flea Market Insiders is a website run by antique enthusiasts who have been traveling around the world, researching, visiting and reviewing flea markets across North America and Europe for nearly 10 years. They've selected their top 11 Indiana flea markets and one stop on that trip brought them to Salem's Huckster's Hall.

Brandon and Jessica Johnson started the flea market five years ago in the old National Guard armory/jacket factory/a myriad of other things, making it just as much a part of history, if not more so, than the antiques and other items for sale inside.

"It's a neat, old building," said Johnson. "It was built in 1929, making it 90 years old. We fell in love with the place and we're fixing things as we can. A lot of old National Guardsmen come in here to look around. The ceiling is the same as it was when they were here and the stage is still here, too, even though it's covered up right now."

The Johnsons and their employee, Brandy Geary, found out about their making the list toward the end of February. Someone found them listed as number 8 on the Flea Market Insiders website and linked them on social media.

"It's an honor to be recognized by anyone, especially someone with some clout," said Brandon. "We're proud of what we have. It may not be the best to some, but it's a livelihood for us. We both have other jobs, too, and livestock and four kids. We find joy in it, along with the income."

Brandon said he and Jessica go out about once a week and find things to resell at the store and that somewhere aroun 30 to 40 percent of sales at Huckster's Hall come from other shop owners doing the same thing.

"I like the merchandise and the customers," said Brandon. "They'll tell us stories of them using these things when they were growing up. We'll have stuff come in and we won't know what it is and they'll educate us. It's a learning process. This is stuff you can't just go out and get at Walmart. You have to search for it."

Brandon conceded there are some modern items in Huckster's Hall. Behind him, as he talked, sat a wall of shelving full of DVDs.

"We try to be mostly vintage and be tasteful with the newer stuff that comes in," he said.

It's not always easy running this type of business, but there's still a lot of joy in it for the Johnsons.

"We enjoy it or we sure as heck wouldn't do it," he said. "We enjoy getting a good deal to pass along."

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