Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Weird Place Wednesday-The Sale

Over the weekend while I was visiting my family I got to visit one of my favorite places. It's not a favorite because of any scenic beauty. It's a favorite because it is strange and wonderful in the convergence of people and products you can find there.

Welcome to Zern's, or as it is affectionately referred to by locals, 'The Sale.' Or if they are real oldtimers, 'Fendue.'


The Sale is smack dab in Pennsylvania Dutch country. It's in a small town but close enough to Philadelphia that it can pull city folk each weekend. It's basically a farmer's market but there is so much more than just produce. Though if you go just a couple hours before closing time on Saturday you can cart off a box full of fresh produce for next to nothing, just so the sellers don't have to crate it up and cart it away.


The mixture of city folk and farm folk always used to be a fascinating contrast. It's changed a lot in recent years but when I was a kid it was not at all unusual to see a mix of people that included local farmers still in their work clothes, socialites in fur coats, Mennonites in bonnets and plain dress, and bikers in their leathers. there doesn't seem to be such diversity today but The Sale is the place where I first learned how much fun people watching could be. You just never knew what you'd see next.
This sign sums it up best.

The plant auction.

The items offered at the Sale also run the gamut, from produce, to fresh meats, to baked goods and candy, to cars at the auto auction, shrubs at the plant auction, puppies at the pet stand, socks, boots, books, vacuum cleaners, clothes, a myriad of junktiques, electronics, haircuts...pretty much every thing you could get at a mall or a Super WallyMart only with a lot more personality attached to it. And the beauty of it is being able to haggle. One of the most amusing things was to watch a Puerto Rican from the city and an old time Dutchman engage in such negotiations. One working in rapid fire staccato, the other in deliberately (almost maddeningly) slow thoughts and expressions.

What would you like to buy?


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Wet bottom Shoo Fly Pies, the local delicacy with the unappetizing name.

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This sign really gives you some of the flavor. where else would you get to work on the honor system?

More local delicacy...
Hope you all found something you wanted here. Since there is so much going on in these pictures you can click for a larger image (hope it works).


Jodes said...

I want to go there!! NOW right NOW!!! HOw cool.

Seamus said...

I'm with Jodes!!!! :)

snavy said...

That is awsome - I love those kind of places!!

What's in a shoe fly pie? I've always wondered that. I suppose I could google but I'm gonna let you explain it. :D

We had a great place sort of like this near my campground as a kid - Kalef's (spelled wrong I'm pretty sure)! I loved when we went there. They had these giant, wooden pickle barrels - mmmm pickles & penny candy - mmmm sweedish fish. Ok, I'm gonna go drive to Lee, NH now and see if it's still there!

lime said...

jodes and seamus, come to PA for a visit. i'll take youthere!

snavy, the wet bottom shoo fly pies are cake in a pie crust with crumbs on top and a layer of molasses between the cake and the crust.

Amber said...

I love stuff like that, but I'm guessing zerns is not a chain. I will have to settle fr the local Farmer's market in the mall parking lot. Which is tonight by the way.

BTExpress said...

You had me when I saw the nut sign. I just loooovvvveeee nuts!

AndyT13 said...

Well that looks...interesting. I'm not much for shopping but I'm sure it would be greta for the right person. We should tell
It's right up her alley. Since i'm heading to Texas shortly I should probably come to PA in the spring. Maybe the band will play down there? Glad you remain unfelonious.
It's so weird yer gettin yer metal out. That makes me think of Wolverine. I hope it goes well and painlessly. Love ya!

Moosekahl said...

That looks like an awesome place! They have a big place like that in the middle of the desert near Mesa, AZ. When the family came to visit, that's where we use to always go.

Spitfire said...

this brought a smile to my face...our farmers market has an honor system :-)

I love those places....

Thanks for reminding me- I have not been to ours in forever.

Lacquer, Semi-Gloss Lacquer said...

I never thought I'd start crying over freakin' Zerns...

--Pa. had so many places like this,(Jersey too,)
Markets, Carnivals, Stock Car Tracks, and walking in a field at night with crickets and lightening bugs... (of course with a girl.)

(heaven has to have a shed with lettering on it stuck someplace back in a corner... no need for a mansion, I wanna Barn with an engine hoist near a decent sized body of water, someplace where my cats-eye and horn-rimmed ancestors can sit on a porch and just talk about whatever,(they're all ghosts now, but they worked hard and earned a place to rest in the country.)

There's nothing quite like standing there, at a market, beard, earrings, and hair, all biker'd out, and catching the eye and a smile from one of the Mennonite girls...
just sort of made you feel decent, whole place did...

Thanks for holding down the fort, lime. I'm sending the word out about Friday.
Here we go.

Chickadee said...

Ohhh I LOVE it!!! I love places like this. There was a place similar to this in Seattle and up in Fairbanks (though on a much smaller scale) We have something somewhat similiar to that in my neck of the woods, though it's not nearly as interesting. :)

Anonymous said...

i love places like that as long as they are not called Flea Markets....anything with Flea in the name turns me off.

I like the glassware and old china...

Gary said...

If that place were around here, I would be there for the cheap produce for sure. I love going to farmers markets. And you are right. Places like that are great for people watching.

Nancy Drew said...


I grew up going to this place every Saturday with my family. The floor was sawdust, the air thick with cigar smoke. Everything there used to be home made--the candy, clothes, furniture, baked goods. We'd watch the auctioneers auction off plants, livestock (geese, ducks, chickens--you name it)--we were there from noon until long after dark. Loved the place. They even sold stuff in the parking lot (this was in the early to mid 1960s. The place burned down, they rebuilt it later).

On the way home would stop in Collegeville to go to a ...well now they call them buffets but in that part of the state they're called smogasboards. Looked for the hex signs on was a marvellous trip up and back.

sigh. Thanks for the memory trip.....

miss_lissa said...

oh cool!! You know, I actually love markets like these.

I love getting a couple candies or a piece of fruit and just wandering aimless in the crowd.

How fun!

Anonymous said...

Whenever I travel, I try to go to the local markets. They are the most interersting places :).

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Anonymous said...

interesting comment above Lime...hhhmmm...anywayyyy....Zern's looks like my kinda place...great slice of local life...thanks for sharing...!!! mwah xxx