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Flea Repellent: Inside the World of Karen’s Flea Market

I love rock-bottom prices and bottom-of-the-barrel shopping expeditions – especially when they're set in a ramshackle shopping center next to the Kidz Vo Tech center – so I couldn't resist stopping by Karen’s Flea Market, 4700 S. Bryant.

Tightly-packed but highly entertaining, Karen's is a whole world set in the cobbled stalls and plywood walls, containing everything in the world you don't want but must have, down to cracked porcelain figurines of crooked bovines, which I saw upon arriving and considered purchasing.

In other words, it’s hard to not spend major bucks here, but you do anyway.

From stereotypical items like peeled paintings from the 70s, torn Richie Rich comics gathering dust, and the small cadre of air conditioners that, hopefully, work, to the exotic wants like a porcelain plate of small hounds begging for a treat, jumbo cans of peeled tomatoes, and, best of all, a wide poster of Biggie and Tupac, suitable for framing. It was all here.

In my continuing quest for the greatest platters of hot wax in the big city, I made sure to stop by Joukz Record Store, where every disc is a surprise feast or a desolate famine.

As the shining faces K.C. and the Sunshine Band and Tanya Tucker hid in the racks, I slid down to find VHS tapes, arcade cabinets, and a few t-shirts for long-forgotten bands.

After a few minutes of digging in the proverbial dirt, I found a copy of Morris Day’s 1987 solo album, Daydreaming, with the hit single “Fishnet” being the banger. I already knew this was a complete purchase for $7.00, giving me flashbacks to my friend Mike G., who is Day’s absolute doppelganger.

Making the rounds, I came upon a bastion of untapped concessions – C 4’s Catering and More.

Looking over the enhance-pictures of food items gracing the walls, I had a food-trigged orgasm that I could ever hope for and then some. Safe word!

Speaking of safe-words….

While waiting for my food, my mutually beneficial female companion pointe out that, apparently, a sex shop is in the works for Karen’s. Through my tiny sliver of hoary flash, I saw marital-aids, flouncy lingerie, and other devises ripe for copulation, all for a good price.

Sorry Patricia's.

With the scent of lube now replaced with smell of fried foods, I sat on a refurbished bench and opened my bag. It was like discovering an Ark of unseen riches spoiled by the gods!

Starting with the Cheeseburger Egg Rolls (1 for $3.00, or 2 for $5.00), this mash-up of cheeseburger and, of course, an eggroll, was fabulous, creating a new wave of diner thrift food I had never realized existed, with two dipping sauces to boot. It was fabulously gobbled up.

But even that was topped by the YOLO Fries ($11.99).

A real treasure of spicy rubble., it features a fresh-out-of-the-bag fried helping of crinkled-cut French fries, topped with cheese, chili, bacon, and jalapenos, along with a heaping helping of Hot Wing Chicken Nuggets.

What. The. Hell. Is this even legal?

This is the Lord’s wrath by way of fast-food pornography and I am so here for it! The cheese and chili are one thing, and the jalapeños and a bacon are another, but with the hot wing chicken nuggets…this is the most exquisite food I had ever tasted. It is so damnably good!

But, with my Morris Day album purchased and my belly filled with the hottest thrift food around, I will have to say this was a great field trip.

Last year, I never thought I be able to make these treks ever again, but, Karen’s Flea Market makes me feel human again. It makes me feel good again.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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