First Monday at Ripley Mississippi

Believe it or not, Ripley Mississippi is overflowing with thriving industries. Its streets are clean. Its people are smiling. Someday soon we need to send a team of great social scientists there to explore how Ripley has accomplished such great success so that our entire nation can benefit.One attraction that obviously makes Ripley more successful is an event called FIRST MONDAY.

It was launched way back in the last part of the 19th century in an effort to help farmers market their wares directly to consumers. Even after a hundred years of experimentation there is still a lot of produce being sold at First Monday.For many consumers the primary reason for coming to First Monday is to stock up on fresh fruits, melons, potatoes, trees to plant, geese, ducks, chickens, pigeons, goats, donkeys, dogs and probably cats too, as well as rare birds, iguanas, parakeets, snakes and so forth. But far more sellers now focus on flea market merchandise to make most of the profits. Wrenches, garden tools, gloves, printed T-shirts, work shirts, work pants, caps, flags, bumper stickers, pharmaceuticals, boxed and canned groceries, rifles, guns, ammunition, bows, knives, toys of all descriptions, and of course, cooked delicacies.First Monday starts on the first Saturday of each month that comes before a Monday in that month.

Consequently, First Monday will occasionally be held on a weekend for the Second Monday of the month.Vendor nationality fluctuates from Good Old Boys to Yankee, from Red Neck to Viet Namese. Customer nationality is even wider. I saw one family from Guatemala visiting and two college boys from Peru were there selling South American flutes and flute music. Illegal aliens ran about 10% of the throng and were buying groceries like they were going out of style.

There is a lot of ground to cover here. First Monday is so large an event that you'll need at least five hours to see it all. If the place was empty you could walk it faster, but usually the place is packed solid.

For the weak and weary there are golf carts being rented out. Because of the thronging crowds a golf cart won't make your visit any faster, just more comfortable. The way is always crowded and the speed limit is always "slow." There are four gateways off the main road and usually there is a line at all four of them. It costs $2 to get in and no help is offered in your search to find a place to park once you are in.

Vendors can set up any kind of booth they want, in any location they can find. However, hunting dogs and hunting weapons vendors tend to congregate over the bridge in a more distant part of the event. Farm and garden equipment is more predominant over the bridge too.A large restaurant is found somewhere close to the center of the meeting ground. The last time I was able to wait in line long enough to get a table and sample the food, it was delicious. Nine or ten "stands" also vie to fill your hungry soul, but seating provisions are sparse at most of them.

The one notable exception to this was a tent provided by a local church. The pews are hard but oh, the relief of getting off your feet is tremendous. I've never actually seen a service being held in the tent but I would gladly have donated to the plate just for the privilege of sitting down for those ten minutes.

Most of the fruit trees are about six feet tall and come five in a bundle for $25. Individual sockets of the tractor-sized, heavy duty, brand name kind are selling for $5 and up. Complete sets of half inch drive sockets are going for $20 to $40 depending on the number of sockets in the set.

HUGE luggage bags are only $40 and pure leather billfolds are going for just $5.There was a pellet gun I've been wanting for a long time now. Never bought it did I pursue because of the $119.95 price tag in view. At one of the booths here I saw it again, still in the box, big, long, powerful and true. The price tag on the box shouted "DOLLARS, ONLY TWENTY TWO.

" Now I'm not suggesting every item there is priced like these, but I do know that just about everything there was a genuine bargain.Ripley is found where Highways 4 and 15 intersect. First Monday is on Highway 15 on the south side of town. If you go through Ripley you will see numerous opportunities to buy other flea market type produce.

You will also get a closer view of a marvelous people that should be studied by a team of great social scientists to see how they accomplish so much.

.Independently less than wealthy, Lin Stone writes how to articles for the trade. In his spare time Lin writes about the Three H-s: horses, humor and health. His first book, HOW TO BUY LAND AT TAX SALES, is so good it is still selling after seven years.

Check it out at http://www.talewins.com/rs002.htm His other books are "selling" from Browzer Books.

By: Lin Stone


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