Monday, April 13, 2015

Memory Bank: U.S. #1 Indoor Flea-Market and Antiques in New Jersey

I’ve written here about my boyhood adventures in the seventies at the Englishtown Flea Market, an incredible outdoor bazaar where I found toys galore, comic-books, and issues of Starlog Magazine.

Another incredible market of my childhood was the U.S. Route #1 Indoor Flea-Market in New Brunswick, New Jersey…which is now a Loew’s multiplex. 

You may have some passing familiarity with U.S. #1 if you watched Kevin Smith’s Mallrats (1995). That comedy film featured a scene set at the famous “dirt mall.” 

Alas, by 1996, the market was gone.

However, U.S. #1, near Edison -- in its hey-day -- was another incredible flea market. The market was housed in a 175,000 square foot building, and more than 100 merchants operated there every weekend.  

You could find anything imaginable at U.S. #1 in those days, from fresh produce dealers and cast-off military items, to a jeweler who traveled to Jersey every weekend from Philadelphia.  My family would typically visit U.S. #1 on the way home from Englishtown, but on some Saturdays, it was the main event.

I loved U.S. #1 for two reasons.

 First, there was an amazing, extremely crowded booth there that served as an ad-hoc used book-store, and featured great film and TV books.  I have owned three or four copies of Gary Gerani’s Fantastic Television (1977) over the decades, but if memory serves, I found my first copy at U.S. #1.  It was a great day.  I remember reading avidly on the trip home from the market, my eyes never wandering from the book's pages.

One Saturday at U.S. #1 market, I also came across another item I’ve never forgotten: a Space:1999 book that I didn’t even know existed at the time.  

The book -- Phoenix of Megaron -- was designed and colored in red instead of blue like the rest of the novel line, and discovering it there, at U.S. #1 -- in a large bin --- was like finding a lost treasure, or something from an alternate universe.

Secondly, I loved U.S. #1 because was also a great comic-book dealer there, and I remember, in particular, catching up with issues of Marvel’s Battlestar Galactica comic series.  In particular, I was trying to fill out my collection (and get one missing issue involving “The Memory Machine.”)

By the mid-1980s, I guess we stopped going to U.S. #1, which is a shame, because I understand that it displayed a De Lorean there, like the one in the Back to the Future movies, for a time.  

I was sad to learn, in preparing this memory bank post that it isn’t there anymore...just another piece of childhood that exists now only in the memory. 


  1. I grew up right across the street from the Flea Market.I used to go there every single Friday, Saturday and Sunday and spend the whole weekend talking to the owners of the comic shop there. There were 3, actually, Titan's Tower, Quality Comics and this little news stand in the back of the market that sold the comics 10 for $1!

  2. 20 years after US1 closed its doors, I found myself nostalgic for those weekends and trying to find a picture of the market. My mother had a hat/cap/scarf store and I'd spend my time at the arcade center, buying videos, collecting pogs and visiting various merchants who I felt were older brothers, sisters, aunts & uncles. Thanks for the picture, I miss that sign!

  3. Anonymous1:32 PM

    20 years after US1 closed its doors, I find myself suddenly nostalgic for my time there, searching for photos of this place on the internet. My mother had a hat/cap/scarf store there and I'd spend my time at the arcades center, purchasing pogs, buying videos, visiting shop-neighbors. My sister and I used to get excited for donuts dipped in coffee in the mornings and baked potatoes for lunch. 'Twas a great place to spend time and explore. Thanks for posting the picture!