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Friday, June 21, 2024

First Gainesville Oddities Market offers unusual items 

More than 60 vendors participated Sunday at Bo Diddley Plaza

Visitors to the Gainesville Oddities Market explore the unusual items sold at the booths on April 7, 2023.
Visitors to the Gainesville Oddities Market explore the unusual items sold at the booths on April 7, 2023.

Angelique Bronson ducked under the white tent in front of her, in part, to escape the sweltering sun above but also to rummage through a wooden barrel of animal skulls. 

“I’ve got a great beaver skull up on my wall already,” she said. “Now I’m looking for something a little bigger.” 

Bronson is a 64-year-old retired teacher who now works as a biology tutor out of her home in Newberry. When she heard Gainesville was going to hold its own oddities market, she said she had to come. 

“I need some more skulls to show the kids,” she said, “and I sure as hell am not going to go forage them myself.” 

Bronson was one of hundreds of people at the Gainesville Oddities Market at Bo Diddley Plaza Sunday. The market, the first of its kind in Gainesville, hosted more than 60 vendors offering jewelry, decorations and animal products. The items were unusual, falling outside the normal range of goods sold at markets.  

Bronson’s focus was on the animal skulls sold by Educational Biofacts, a company operated by Chris Delorey out of Rockledge. 

“I’ve been selling things with Biofacts since 2006,” Delorey said. “It’s the kind of job where the unexpected is the norm.” 

Delorey brought a selection of his products to Gainesville’s market, including skulls of all sizes. 

“We’ve got all the way from a little muskrat,” he said, holding up a beige skull about the size of a ping pong ball, “to our big gator head.” 

Delorey’s customer base is large and diverse, with interest from experts and teachers like Bronson to casual consumers like Lydia Wright. Wright, a 38-year-old mother of four, said she didn’t have a second thought about bringing her children to the market. 

“I have a bunch of weird kids,” she said. “They’re more at home here than they would be at any other market, I guarantee you that much.” 

Wright ushered her kids into the maze of tents with a challenge to find the creepiest item, the winner getting the honor of picking their very own mouse skull. She turned slowly in a booth filled with skull lamps, carefully deciding which one she wanted to add to her living room. 

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“Usually we load into the van and go to the oddities market in Ocala,” she said. “That’s always been the closest one we could find, which is why I’m glad they had this one here. Saves me a long trip with the kids.” 

The Gainesville Oddities Market and others like it attract customers who don’t usually flock to the other markets in the city. Lisa Dottle, a 27-year-old artist and vendor, said the Oddities Market attracts different sellers as well. 

“Some other kinds of markets are really restrictive,” she said. “I’d never be able to bring this kind of thing, what I really love making, to a vintage or flea market.” 

Dottle’s passion is ceramics, each mug and bowl adorned with a bloody set of vampire teeth or a handle so spiky it almost hurts to hold. She said past markets have tried to limit her creativity. 

“I applied for a market in Melrose one time, and I had to send in pictures of my work for it to be approved,” she said. “I got a message back that read, ‘Love the birds, hate everything else.’” 

Of the 26 pieces she sent in for consideration, only three were approved for sale: a set of robin’s egg blue plates with black geese painted on them. Dottle said she was taken aback. 

“They’re beautiful plates, I see why they liked them,” she said. “But to discredit everything else I made, all of the unique pieces of art I have to offer, that felt really low. It showed me that I didn’t really belong there.” 

Two years after the feedback from the Melrose market, Dottle was pointed in the direction of an oddities market in Orlando by a fellow artist. 

“That’s the first place I truly felt welcomed and embraced,” she said. “I was a weird ceramics lady selling weird ceramics to weird people. What’s better than that?” 

Now, Dottle has sold at oddities markets for three years. She said she’s found her own community of creators who feel they fit outside of the conventional market template. 

“It’s a big cliche, I know, but when you start to sell at markets with the same people week after week, they do feel like a family,” she said. “There’s none of that weird competition or resentment. It’s just a group of people, their passions and a lot of skulls.” 

Contact Bea Lunardini at blunardini@alligator.org. Follow her on X @bealunardini.


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