Revisiting Renninger’s Antique Market in Adamstown, Pennsylvania: A Trip into Lost America and Americana

by Craig Hartranft on August 16, 2021

in A Writer's Life, Humor & Satire, Op-Ed, Travel

Renninger's Antique Market, Adamstown, PAI recently revisited Renningers Antique Market in Adamstown for the first time in 25 years in a search for classic pulp fiction, comic books, and a few more odds and ends. Nothing much has changed at this now ancient flea market venue. I recall this place from my youth, but it seems like it’s older than the American Civil War (or Methuselah).

This old flea market still smells like cat piss and skunk shit inside. Upon entering the tin-plated rickety building, the odor hits you like an outhouse on a hot August afternoon. This stench is then mixed with smell of old grease, stale bread, and cheap hot dogs they sell in the center of the facility. I don’t recommend going anywhere near a public restroom. Pretty disgusting. Forget COVID, you’ll probably get a bad case of clap wrapped up tetanus.

The seller booths are populated by dealers who are old men and women with dirty clothing, bad grooming, crooked teeth, and aloof attitudes. How do they sell anything? They don’t, because they have the same filthy, dusty shit they had 30 years ago.

And be careful what you ask for if you’re looking for something special. Both the Renninger staff and dealers are generally ignorant, lacking knowledge. I asked if there are any vendors who sell pulp fiction, books or magazines, from the 50’s and 60’s. They didn’t know what I was talking about. The most they could do was direct me to somebody who sold regular books. One young fellow said, when asked about pulp fiction, “you mean the movie.” No, dumbass.

Renninger's Antique Market, Adamstown, PAThen there’s the clientele. The customers look like uneducated circus freaks who shop at used clothing stores, don’t brush their teeth, and probably reuse condoms and tampons on a regular basis (if they use either at all). Probably Trump supporters, one and all.

If anything, a visit to Renninger’s is a trip down memory lane, to a forgotten twilight zone and American sub-culture which should be viewed in tones of 50’s B-movie grayscale. Recommendation: take a long hot shower afterwards.