The spring Flea turns 40

Susan Stover Daniels ’67 thrills at the sight of a good used table. She gets giddy when a pal offers up a box of old books. And she’s been known to hop in the car when friends announce they’re moving, just so she can sort through their cast-offs.

As chair of the Puget Sound Women’s League Flea Market, Daniels is on a mission. “I want to earn money for scholarships,” says the retired Tacoma school teacher. This month’s flea market—held March 17—was the seventh over which she has presided.

Inspired by the flea markets of Paris, the Women’s League staged its first market in spring 1968, which makes 2007 its 40th. Over the years, the sale has supported construction projects, furnished residence halls, and added to the library collection. The sale now funds four endowed scholarships; it raised $31,000 in 2006.

In addition to second-hand goods, the flea market routinely hosts 60 to 65 outside vendors, who sell everything from plants to jewelry. The goods—and low $1 admission fee—draw thousands of shoppers to the fieldhouse each spring.

“Some people complain about the crowds, but for me, the best thing is to go up to the second story of the fieldhouse and look down and have so many people in there that you can’t see any carpet,” says Daniels, who credits the market’s success to a dedicated crew of Women’s League volunteers.

“One year, while we were setting up, somebody suggested if each of the workers donated $1,000 we could make just as much money,” she says. “But the community looks forward to this event. This is a part of the university and the North End of Tacoma. We have people who’ve been coming to the market for 20 years.”

When the last sale is rung up, Daniels and team pause long enough to add up their take, then start preparing for next year. In October, they get a chance to meet the students who won the scholarships funded by their used books and second-hand furniture.

— Mary Boone