Chaos theory

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  • When I was a kid one of my favorite things to do was help out at the local Scout group flea markets with my Dad. Those were probably my favorite father-son times with Dad. The pair of us would help sort out the items, organising what stuff went on what stalls, and occasionally debating the value of an item.

    We still look back on those old jumble sales and laugh at the frantic dashes people would make for a certain item, sometimes getting into physical altercations with another bargain hunter over who grabbed it first. Dad would step in and settle the dispute by holding an impromptu auction right there taking bids for whatever it was that they wanted so badly. It was awesome, and even thinking about it makes me smile.

    Maybe that’s where I developed my fascination with secondhand stores, flea markets, or as the upmarket ones like to call themselves, antique and vintage emporiums. I rarely buy a single item, but they’re always fascinating to walk through and see how they display their wares.

    Such places are rarely noted for being anything other than hectic, but today I think I visited the most chaotic of them all. ‘Things Secondhand‘ on Northcote High Street in Melbourne is a veritable labyrinth of trash and treasure.

    Inside the shop there is hardly room to stand, and certainly no room to browse in any kind of relaxed manner. Items are strewn in complete disarray with seemingly no order or forethought. Things are simply piled atop of one another in total and glorious pandemonium.

    The owner told me the store had been hers for the past twelve years. Before she owned ‘Things Secondhand’ she was a school teacher.

    When I asked her if she maybe would consider clearing some of her stock in order to allow a little more movement inside the shop she dismissed the idea as if it was the most absurd notion.

    “It’s a big shop.” She told me pointing up at the ceiling. “There’s plenty of room for more.”

    “I can find things easy.” She said with a smile that made her look spookily like she might be a distant relative of the wicked witch from the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie. “Yes, I know where everything is.”

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