“How much are they?” asked a visitor to the flea market inside a gaming store in Gainesville.
“Ten each,” replied Viet Huynh, a vendor at the event billed as the first of its kind in the city, as he gestured to the custom-made minion figurines on his table.
“I shouldn’t spend that,” said the woman, appearing to rationalize.
“It’s also a pen,” said Huynh, who pulled a minion head off to reveal the toy’s second purpose.
“Woah! Oh my god,” said the woman, who while no doubt impressed, turned and walked away.
Everyone from Dungeon Masters to Pokémon trainers assembled for the first gaming flea market on Saturday at Gamesville Tabletop on Northwest 25th Place. The 200 attendees ranged from adults with children in strollers to teenagers to University of Florida students.
The event was held in the back of the store, where tables are set up for gaming on a regular basis. Rather than for gaming businesses to sell products, the intent was for regular local gamers to sell their old, unwanted or custom-made items. Funko Pops toys, wooden dice towers, a 3D printed alligator, comic books and various other gaming items were scattered on tables from four hours.
Huynh, 36, of Gainesville, is an artist and stand-up comedian who takes figurines and then paints and alters them to make them into superheroes and pop culture characters. For example, he said, he has made a bear into a Captain America and a minion character into a Mario.
“It got to a point where my friends were like, ‘You should post these online,’ Huynh said, noting that he has been making the figurines for eight years.
“As soon as I started doing that people actually liked them, surprisingly,” he added. “I started being able to sell them and people commissioned me to make stuff for them.”
Lloyd Brown, 50, owns the store as well as Friendly Local Game Store in Jacksonville. After a successful flea market at the other store, he decided to hold a flea market at Gainesville Tabletop. Brown said bringing the gaming community together is as important as increasing foot traffic overall.
“Like people in every hobby, people like to share their hobby, and gaming is perfect for that,” he said.
Brown, who started with playing Dungeons & Dragons in the ‘80s, said he has seen the growth of board gaming in the area over the last decade, in no small part because of shows like “Stranger Things” on Netflix and “The Big Bang Theory” on network TV.
Another vendor, Shawn Wills, 32, a registered nurse from Newberry, combined his love for gaming and his woodworking hobby after a push from his nerdy friends.
Wills said he uses a variety of domestic, exotic and locally sourced wood to make dice towers, keepsake boxes, Dungeon Master screens and valet trays.
“My friends enjoyed them, and so far I’m finding many others want hand-made tabletop accessories, too,” he said.
Saying that gaming gives him and fellow players something to look forward to after a long day of work, Wills said it is a catalyst for relationships with others.
“I’ve not only developed new friends through having game nights, but I bolstered friendships with others that otherwise I wouldn’t have had much in common,” he said.
Karina Carroll, 34, a stay-at-home mom, thought the flea market seemed like a fun event for her family when she came across it on Facebook. Her favorite game is Cards Against Humanity, but she also enjoys playing board games such as Dungeons & Dragons with them.
“It’s just a way to reconnect,” Carroll said. “Sometimes we’ll go weeks without talking because of scheduling, children, work. So this is just a way for our family to get together.”