A good flea market is a wondrous thing. It serves as a great place to find all kinds of goods, but also as an entertaining community meeting place. Flea market shopping isn't just about saving money, it's about having fun, discovering strange new things, and making a point to recycle rather than buy more new stuff from the same old big-box store. And Wolff's Flea Market in Rosemont and Palatine, IL is one of the best.
Wolff's opened its "doors" in its outdoor Rosemont location in 1991. At the time, brothers David and Donald Wolff were making some spending money selling souvenirs at Allstate Arena. "One day, after a stadium event, the brothers looked at the parking lot and realized that it would be perfect for a flea market," explains David's wife Sharon, who manages media and merchandising for the business. "The brothers concentrated their efforts and with the help of their parents, Katherine and Lawrence Wolff and sister Eileen, they opened Wolff's Flea Market in May 1991."
courtesy of Wolff's Flea Market
Since then, Wolff's Flea Market has also opened an indoor market in Palatine. The Palatine Market location is large enough to house hundreds of vendors and is at a busy spot where many people live. Because it's inside, weather is no issue, so it is able to operate all year long.
And locals appreciate the market. "Our sellers fill a niche for local residents looking for cultural, quinceanera and other ethnic items," says Wolff. "We are very diverse, and with the large numbers of individual vendors, most any customer would be able to find something!"
And when Wolff says that most any customer should be able to find something, she means it. That's because Wolff's has nearly everything. "Art, antiques, new merchandise, home decor, vinyl, collectibles, comics, coins, clothing, storage locker clean-out, jewelry, furniture, resale, garage sale, liquidation, store returns, dollar items, produce, food, religious items, handmade soaps, plants, computer & jewelry repair services, cosmetics, toys, books, CDs, DVDs, phone accessories... the list goes on," says Wolff.
courtesy of Wolff's Flea Market
Many items come from store returns and overstock. "Many people don't realize the vast amount of potential waste and monetary loss when big-box and department stores accumulate returned merchandise or are stuck with unsold inventory," says Wolff. Stores rarely return these items to the shelves, and they are sold at auctions to the vendors who sell at Wolff's. "Often the items are in excellent new condition with only opened boxes," notes Wolff.
And for customers with a sense of fun, Wolff's hosts the Ugly Art Gallery, which features... well, you can probably guess. You might have a hard time bringing any of it home, though. "Donald rarely lets any of his Ugly Art collection go!" says Wolff.
This kind of community and spontaneity are part of what make flea markets so much fun. Vendors have great stories, and there's always some interesting thing to catch the eye. "Both of our flea markets offer a fun, family-friendly, casual atmosphere," says Wolff. Many times, vendors and customers end up striking up friendships. "There are even a couple of love stories!" Wolff says with a laugh.
Whatever you might be looking for, Wolff's Flea Market is pretty likely to have one, or five. And even if you're not looking for anything, you may find something anyway, says Wolff: "There is always something that would surprise even the most regular of customers."
Wolff's Palatine location is open every Saturday and Sunday from 8am-4pm, year round at 1775 N. Rand Road .