“Farm Fresh” is often used to describe the quality of fruits, veggies, or even dairy products harvested directly from their source. In the antiques business, the term “farm fresh” upholds a similar ideal: an object just uncovered from some dusty, rural, forgotten place – that has remained unseen and unshopped by dealer or customer, and is only now entering the marketplace.
If you are like most people, you may not even know where to begin to look for such an object. Like me, you probably cannot picture yourself knocking on the door of some rural property, to ask if there is something you can buy in their barn. Fear of vicious dogs, trespassing, and angering someone who already chose to live far away from people to begin with, is enough to keep me at bay. So how can we obtain that farm fresh find? The answer is simple: it can be found at Gentner’s Community Market on Wednesday mornings – just down the 219, on Main Street in Springville.
It is one of my favorite markets, with the friendliest vendors, who in most cases, truly need the money for their wares. There are no slick salesmen; but lots of folks with limited incomes, and farmers, dependent on good weather to make a living. There are no polished overpriced antiques, but things that still have life in them, and in most cases, just need a good cleaning and a little love. Prices are fair, and vendors actually smile when you buy things, because in most cases, are as happy as you are that you found something you love, as much as they did.
Keep in mind, just like buying a scratch off ticket, it is not always a treasure trove, and there are still plenty of down days. But I can say, any Wednesday that is not a rainy day, even if your holy grail is unfound, there are still greenhouse plants to buy, fruits and vegetables, strong coffee, Amish baked goods, and ultimately, the weekly auction.
Yes, they have an outdoor auction – for those from the community who just want to drop off their farm finds, and leave it to the bidders to decide the value. The auction starts at 9 a.m. and costs $3 to get a number to bid, and a 25% commission on purchases. I suggest you get there early, as everything that is for sale is stacked in rows behind the barn for you to inspect before the bidding starts. The variety of merchandise is similar to the market, with some things you will love, and some you can definitely live without. Depending on the number of bidders, which is sometimes small, you can really find some underpriced treasures, or a garden’s worth of perennials on the cheap.
Although the merchandise is packed into lots, there is often the opportunity to bid on a particular item that interests you. You do have to wait patiently until the auctioneer gets to that lot, but patience here usually pays off. Things like boxed lots, mid-century and Danish modern furniture, used vinyl, musical instruments, art, furniture, and all sorts of decorations are usually found for next to nothing. Gentner’s offers an interesting ambience, and is a great way to get introduced to the country auction business, but without having to bid against aggressive dealers.
Having traveled all over New England picking antiques, I can honestly tell you, there are not a lot of community markets with the variety of what is offered Wednesdays in Springville. Western New York is rich in history, and there truly are treasures that come to surface in these small country markets. Visiting these venues creates a pride of place outside of city lines, and offers an economic opportunity for people from small rural towns, where poverty is as prevalent as our urban cores. Gentner’s Community Market provides an excellent opportunity for both buyer and seller, and helps slow down the everyday blur that we all sometimes find ourselves victims of.
So, if by chance, you have a free Wednesday morning this summer, wake up early, jump in the car and head down the 219-South for an old fashioned market adventure. Wear practical shoes for the morning dew, and bring cash, because there is gold in them there hills, and they don’t take credit.
Lead image: Gentner Community Market, Springville NY