An Arizona outdoor market.


I love swap meets. I think they are some of the coolest places to visit. We have three really big ones here in Phoenix. Well one is technically out in Mesa but I still count it as Phoenix. The one I am posting about today is in Phoenix at a drive in Movie theater.


I used to come to this theater when I was a little girl. My dad would load up his baby blue pick up truck and throw a mattress in the back, stop off for a bucket of KFC chicken and we would watch two movies with each admission.


That is a long time watching a movie for a kid. That’s why he brought that mattress, so we could pass out when we got tired. The whole family used to head out to the drive in movie theater. They would bring lawn chairs and set them up next to their vehicles and watch movies together as a family.


This is probable one of the last drive in movie theaters in our city and on the weekends they have a huge outdoor market with all kinds of cool things to buy. There is also food to eat and sometimes a local band will be singing and playing music at the market.


I haven’t been to this swap meet for awhile. You know how life just gets busy and it is hard enough just keeping up with the regular shopping, well it was time for me to have fun doing the fun type of shopping. I woke up really early and made pancakes for the kids (my adult kids) and while the kids slept in my husband and I headed out Sunday morning to look for a special gift for my daughter’s birthday that week.


First thing I noticed was this old sewing machine once we got there. I of course fell in love with this sad and damaged piece of furniture. It was in a sorry state. It was so bad. It must have been kept outdoors in our crazy Arizona weather.


I looked at it a little closer and decided to pass. This one was just too far gone. I have repaired and up-cycled a lot of these old tables but this one was just too much work.


Wow, this candy just popped when I passed by. It was so colorful and there were all kinds of shapes. What a great party candy. It reminded me of Willy Wonka, one of my favorite stories and movies. They even had little pieces that looked like watermelon.


There are all kinds of dried fruits and nuts at the market. These are the perfect foods to pack when hiking and taking road trips.


There were some really unique food items. I could not tell you how to eat or prepare most of these but hey, they looked pretty. They look like some sort of food from another planet.


Now, I know what this is.


Sometimes just for giggles, my husband and I would buy unusual looking food and bring it home to give to our children when they were very little. We would tell them to always try something different just in case they are ever somewhere in a foreign country, to prevent them from becoming picky. Picky eaters have such a hard time in life. I was a picky eater growing up and then I started traveling. Lets just say I am no longer picky. The hardest time for me was in Belize when I discovered there was no ice where I was at.


I was seeing bin after bin of crazy looking stuff and came across this. Turning to my husband I said “ This plant looks like a dried fish, wait, is it fish?” here the questions will begin and anyone around me will get an earful if I am in one of my moods of curiosity. My husband laughed and told me “Yes, it’s fish, you soak it in water and cook it later” okay I felt silly. Wonder if it ends up tasting a little like my favorite pickled herring fish.


The vendors are very friendly and helpful. There were lots of samples and explanations and some looks of confusion too. I mean what is wrong with this person(me) that doesn’t know what these things are.

Okay, I get this. Seeds, nuts and candy. I love all these things.


Alright now we are coming to one of my tables. A table full of mismatched and used things. It’s like someone raided grandma’s closet and is now selling it. I really liked the rooster but could not figure out where to put him.


I was on a mission though so I continue walking the market looking for a particular item my daughter collects. There is only one place in the city she has found them and it was at this market last year. I was checking out all the colorful tables because it is very colorful what I was looking for.


There are tables full of color everywhere.This item I was looking for was becoming a bit of a challenge.


Uh oh, another distraction. Look how cute these keychains are. I have to be very careful. I am trying to eliminate clutter in my life and keep things simple. What do I need a doll keychain for anyway, I am a grown woman but don’t they just make you smile. Hey, wait, maybe a gift for a package. They are so adorable.


I came across this display of bras and told my husband I thought it would be a really great black and white photo, he asked why when the colors looked great. I told him sometimes when you come across a black and white photo of many items the fun part is what our brains come up with in filling in the blanks. A coloring book for our souls. Like reading a good book which is always better than a good movie, at least in my opinion it is.


So cute. These bouncy horses must be trending now. I am seeing them everywhere.


Pretty. This was the first word that came to my head when I saw rows and rows of friendship bracelets. I asked the man at the table if he made them and he answered yes. Well, he did a great job I told him.


We always have cowboy boots in this state. I liked the detail in these.


And tiny little leather purses with colorful little flowers all over them. When you go down some isles at the market you know when you are getting to the leather area just by smell alone.


Okay, I can not pass up this. Oranges, come on, who doesn’t love oranges. Oranges will always be one of my favorite gifts to receive. I think I would be so sad if I didn’t get this every year around Christmas, birthdays, Easter. I will look for all and every reason under the sun to get a good orange. They were selling them 4 for $1. The man at this table was so sweet. He even gave us a lesson on the honey that his family bottles.


These skeletons were scary and funny at the same time. Hey kids, this is what happens when you drink too much.This is a Day of the dead item. Passed loved ones are left some of their favorite things and liquor is usually a very popular item.


Oh, look, more colorful tables. But these are not the items my daughter wants.



Alright, I think this is it. I might have finally found what I came to the market for.


Yep, there they are. My daughters little obsession at the moment. These crazy little bobble head animals. She only has two in her collection that I know of. Every year she picks one up. I know she has a turtle, but she does not have a rabbit or pig. The rabbits ears move and the pigs tail moves up and down. They are pretty tiny. My step grandfather who was from Mexico (Nana’s third husband) gave me one of these years ago when I was about 8 years old, it too was a little turtle. I no longer have it but it is still locked away in my memory bank.


On the way out of this stall I could not pass up looking over these beautiful embroidery flower shirts. I have been trying my hand at embroidery this past month and having a lot of fun at it, mistakes and all. I mean, look at this, aren’t they pretty?


Well I got what I came here for. My husband and I had a ton of fun. I think I might make this a monthly event. I miss the swap meet. Here are a few of the items I ended up buying. This complete set of threads, container included, was one of my favorite finds. All for $3.


A couple of mason jars filled with tiny fairies and a fairy house in another. Did not realize until I got home that there were little itty bitty lights inside that worked. I just had to pull the tag and press the button. Each jar was $1.


Found two more wooden ornaments to add to my collection. One was a Mrs. Claus holding a tiny broom made of red yarn. The other was a little doll with a wooden bowl in front. Both were only .50 cents each.




A whole chess set that folds up with everything inside. This was $4.



Hope you all liked seeing one of our markets over here in our state. I loved visiting outdoor markets in Mexico, Belize and Italy when I used to travel. It is always fun being outside, meeting new people and learning about different cultures.

Little info. On the photos: I was a little nervous at one time taking photos at this market. I try to be very careful when taking public photos especially since some people do not like to be photographed, me included. I ask their permission first.

In some places, there are people that may be doing illegal things at the markets or the items are stolen, so they get angry if they think they are being recorded in any way. One time a man selling exotic birds got very upset when he saw photos being taken of his birds and yelled to leave. I haven’t seen birds since then.

Also, using a camera and not a cellphone sometimes attracts the wrong kind of attention, so keep your cameras wrapped around your wrist or close to you.

There were a couple men following me around the market and when they saw my husband walk up near me they backed off. My husband was away from me at one time and noticed they were walking very close to me.

I was too busy taking photos and didn’t realize my camera was drawing attention. I did turn around at one isle and notice a man leaning against a pole glaring at me. When my husband said “He was one of the men keeping an eye on you”, it freaked me out a bit. I wondered to myself what the man glaring at me was so angry about.

I made sure as to not photograph people unless they were okay with that. I grew up in a rough neighborhood so I am used to blending in as they say but a camera is kind of hard to disguise.

I have never experienced this at this market before so I didn’t feel like I had to be on guard, it was a market from my childhood. All in all, it was a fun day. Next time I will leave the camera at home because this is my favorite market to go to, so I will definitely be going back.

The people and vendors are always really friendly and I have never experienced or heard about anything bad happening at this market but like everything in life, all it takes is one time. There is tension and anger out in the world, especially with political subjects.

Many years ago before I had children, once while in Belize city, a marshal saw me photographing everywhere and told me to watch my camera, ” There are thieves around ” he said and I listened to him. I had my long hair pulled back in a ponytail and tucked under a baseball cap, wearing an old t shirt and jeans, no make up, no jewelry, but that camera does draw attention.

So please be careful when out exploring and photographing. Stay alert and trust your gut feelings. There are some beautiful and amazing humans out there in the world but there are also some pretty wicked ones too. And if you are ever in Phoenix, try one of our outdoor markets, they are not scary, I promise. Just watch yourself and others whenever you are out in the world.  Happy shopping adventures everyone.








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