The mother of all flea markets

Labor Day weekend brings the annual Hillsville Gun Show and Flea Market — easily the mother of all flea markets and an event that turns the sleepy Carroll County Town into a bustling city of thousands upon thousands packing the streets, parking in yards and open fields and rummaging through junk, out-of-stock merchandise, whatnots and — of course — guns.

Over the years, the gun show and flea market has evolved into a mixture of overt hucksterism, carnival sideshow and a gathering where North Carolinia yuppies mix with redneck locals to look for bargains that appear less and less frequently among the overpriced offerings from China.

Flea market regulars note that while prices continue to rise, quality falls. Many of the guns for sale inside the VFW Hall can be bought for less at a gun store and vendors now want premium prices for used items that are no longer bargains.

Still, the crowds come looking for the inevitable bargain or the last minutes sales that some when the vendors face the end of the weekend and the choice of dumping unsold inventory or taking it home.

It’s a Labor Day tradition.

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5 thoughts on “The mother of all flea markets”

  1. Doug, I find your naming the locals in Hillsville as ‘redneck’ insulting. I am originally from Galax and would never refer to all locals as rednecks. Actually, I would hope you would refrain from using the “mother” of insults to the wonderful locals in that area of Virginia.

  2. Redneck is historically a derogatory slang term to refer to poor white Southern farmers in the United States.[1] It is similar in meaning to “cracker” (especially in Georgia and Florida), “hillbilly” (especially in Appalachia) and “white trash” (especially among blacks[2][3]).
    Look up redneck in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

    The most common American usage, referring to the poor rural white Southerner, is probably derived from individuals having a red neck caused by working outdoors in the hot sun. A citation from 1893 provides a definition as “poorer inhabitants of the rural districts…men who work in the field, as a matter of course, generally have their skin burned red by the sun, and especially is this true of the back of their necks”.[4] In recent decades the term expanded its meaning to mean bigoted, loutish and opposed to modern ways, and has often been used to attack Southern conservatives and segregationists. At the same time, many members of the U.S. Southern community have set out to reclaim the word, using it as a self-identifier, and the term has also been claimed by individuals outside of the United States.

    • I did get your point, Doug, of demonstrating the diversity of the people who attend that flea market; however, I would hope that we would exclude these types of derogatory words in our publications. I can call myself a redneck or hillbilly and take pride in it, but don’t usually find comfort in hearing it from others. I guess what bothers me is that the statement about ” local rednecks” appears to assume that all southwest Virginians are the same, and I know many there who are certainly diverse. I live in Georgia now, and I can’t imagine using the word “cracker” to decribe all Georgians.

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© 2021 Blue Ridge Muse