After parking at Kirkwood's Nipher Middle School, you walk up a long flight of stairs to the annual Kids' Flea Market at the Magic House.
The first thing that confronts you is a table manned by two nine-year-old girls and their mother, who're very busy giving away ice cream. It seems they're promoting a nearby ice-cream parlor, and you take a cone of blue raspberry.
Free ice cream -- it can't be beat, and it sets the tone for the entire Kids' Flea Market experience: inexpensive (and free) goodies, served with a smile. Happy happy, joy joy.
Stepping into a maze of about 100 tables of junior-sized vendors (they have to be sixteen or younger, though most seem to be between eight and twelve), you see that the lawn and driveway of the Magic House are a riot of color. Here's a table where a kid is selling those stickers you find in the sticker machines at grocery stores, only he isn't charging 50 cents per, but rather $2 for a box of 30. Did they fall off a truck? In any case, you buy two sets for your nephews.
There is an astounding variety of used kids' stuff for sale here: junior-sized football pads; friendship bracelets; Barbie dolls; baseball, Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards; Legos; Happy Meal toys chewed by dogs and toddlers; board games and puzzles; PS2, Nintendo, Genesis and X-Box video games; parenting and R.L. Stine books -- you name it.
A young girl busily makes beaded barrettes, selling them for 25 cents a pop as fast as she can turn them out. A six-year-old boy struggles mightily to inflate a blow-up pterodactyl with a seven-foot wingspan. Two brothers wade through a vat of Hot Wheels, making an unholy racket in the stew of tiny metal cars.
A flea market run by and for children -- for a young customer with five bucks, it's something like Christmas morning.