The Berlin Farmers Market is not really a farmers market.

Its name reaches back to the 1940s, when it was a livestock and produce auction. The Giberson family has owned the N.J. market since that time and has welcomed changing times.

During the summer there are fruit and vegetable stands outdoors. Year round on weekends, in the outdoor flea market, old timers and brand-new vendors set up tables and offer their wares — from brooms and all sorts of tools to colorful bras displayed on generic mannequins; Indian scarves to socks galore; dog bones, glass ware, doubtful antiques, old salsa LPs and more recent Bollywood DVDs.

The real deal is inside.

Don't expect a fancy place. Nothing is really new or modern. It's basic and fun and chock full of surprising stuff.

Here merchants, like the butcher and haberdasher, can remember the old days when they first opened their stores and catered to the parents and grandparents of today's customers.

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You can eat pulled pork sandwiches and Puerto Rican fare, get a family portrait and choose the backdrop, browse the discounted book and magazine store — well stocked with every issue of Weird N.J. ever published.

You can also load up on freshly roasted nuts (peanuts are the best) and stop for shea butter imported from Africa. Buy a dress and hat for church, fluffy kids' dresses for celebrations, and sturdy work boots. Almost 80 stores are open every Thursday to Sunday, year round.

I went recently with my friend Kimberly, who regaled us with stories of coming here with her late father when she was a child to buy sausages and other fare, always starting with a small bag of sugar-dusted hot apple cider donuts baked right there.

And all this is only a half-hour from Philadelphia.


Share your stories of the Berlin Farmers Market in the comments below.