It’s been a while but I finally visited my mecca, the Rose Bowl Flea Market, last weekend. I’ve been going since I was a teenager and I still feel anxious and excited every time I approach the entrance. The bright colors, the old timey music, the two dollar bills you get in change when you pay with a ten – it’s and experience even before you go through gates. I love the London and European markets for their authenticity but this one really takes the cake in terms of offerings for me. Unlike other markets that focus primarily on small bric-a-brac, the Rose Bowl flea features parking lots full of furniture, clothes, and everything in between. Since I’m only visiting, I went without an agenda and was open to finding treasures that could be put into our storage if need be. It sounds silly to buy something for later but I’m still dreaming about a chandelier that I passed on before moving to London and I vowed to not do that again. I ended up only buying one small pot for our succulents in KL but I did find myself drawn to chairs and metal patio furniture. Wouldn’t those yellow ones look great in my future Palm Springs lounge? And the stools for the poolside bar? It was so hot that morning that a swim and a cold drink were really the only things on my mind. Because of that not much shopping got done but I did relish the chance to be in my mecca once again. Do you have a favorite flea market where you live or one that you’ve traveled to?
Sometimes I love my flea markets big but other times small ones do just the trick. When I first learned of the Clocktower Market in Greenwich I was ecstatic to have yet another reason to head East and spend time there. Greenwich has such a charming village feel and this small but quality flea market on its High Street only adds to the area’s appeal.
Not all of the stalls were filled but the vendors who were there were friendly and helpful. I always find it interesting to overhear them chatting amongst each other about how “things aren’t how they used to be” and how slow business is these days. It’s literally the same conversation at every flea market and antique fair that I got to. I wonder how much of it is true or if they’re just trying to indirectly guilt me into buying something. Either way, I appreciate them and all of the vintage treasures they share with us day in and day out. The goods for sale were varied though I did notice that winter coats and fur hats were a major deal for obvious reasons. I, of course, ended up buying a black sequin blazer for twenty quid (that’s “bucks” talk in UK English) regardless of actually needing a winter coat! What can I say, it made me feel like a disco diva and that feeling is hard to resist.
Though tempted by a pair of suitcases (DIY side table?) we left with just my blazer and a funky piece for the shop. The market was perfectly manageable and non-exhaustive which is definitely key considering that just around the corner you’ve got Greenwich Market, Greenwich Park, the Royal Maritime Museum, and the Observatory. Lots of fun to be had!
Yesterday I mentioned a project that’s been keeping me busy and today I’m giving you a hint as to what it is: flea markets!
It’s been a while since my last Market Memo post so with an upcoming launch of a flea market related project, I thought I’d finally share some pics from El Rastro in Madrid. I’ve got to admit, the first time I visited El Rastro I was seriously disappointed when all we came across were booths filled with new indie clothing and tourist souvenirs. All those things are fine but where was all the vintage stuff?!? It’s off the main drag, that’s where it’s at. You see, El Rastro spans an entire neighborhood of narrow streets on a slope just off of the La Latina metro station. Practically everyone enters the market via Calle de Toledo straight to Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores which makes it perfect for hawking local crafts and souvenirs. Vintage hunters, we figured out, should enter via Calle de la Arganzuela to go directly to a much quieter area of the market where all you’ll find are small antique shops and individual traders.
Figuring out the alternate vintage route on our second trip really made me fall in love with El Rastro. Everything from the merchandise being sold off the floor to the laundry hanging to dry on balconies of the apartments above. It’s a very unique and authentic experience for the simple fact that the vintage vendors don’t just pay for a spot and set up a table once a week. These guys have tiny store fronts and come Sunday, they extend their shops out to the street and are joined by individuals who bring nothing but their merch and a blanket to lay it on. Pair this with a maze-like, hyper-local neighborhood and you get more than just a market – you get a sense of exploration that is unparalleled to shopping in a parking lot, a field, or one single designated street.
If you’re going to go – which you totally should if you’re in Madrid – go early around 8am or 9am to avoid the crowds that really build up after 10:30am. Also, don’t miss Plaza del General Vara del Rey. Though at first it seems like it’s only good for cheap tube socks and second hand clothes, just past those stalls and near the center there are usually vintage dealers with all sorts of goods sprawled over blankets. Like always, the fun stuff is just off the beaten path.
I didn’t do my homework. Rather, I listened to locals who told me that the best day to do Portobello Market is on Friday very early in the morning when the tourist crowds are minimal. So, I got there at 8am thinking I was primed for the good stuff but nope, that was still too early.
Oh well, I thought, figuring that my premature arrival gave me time to eat a proper breakfast and still be one of the first shoppers to pounce. Within an hour I was surprisingly over the urge to shop and simply began to enjoy watching the vendors set up their tables and store owners open their doors. It was like witnessing a ritual that I’m usually to preoccupied to notice. Even before the first boxes of goodies were taken out of loaded vans I was able to walk the then peaceful road totally uninterrupted. Having been to Portobello on a Saturday when the crowds of people are practically overwhelming, it was a real treat to actually be able to walk freely, chat with vendors, look up, and stop and admire the many signs, typography, and colors of the street.
I always like to do markets early in the morning but at least now I know that I can sleep in for Portobello on Fridays.
Sunbury is held at Kempton Park Racecourse on the second and last Tuesday of the month and since I’m currently a quasi stay-at-home wife, I was lucky to be able to make the one and a half hour trek down there. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who can go vintage hunting any ol’ day of the week, or better yet, be one of those people who do it as their job. We’ll see what I can come up with to make the latter a reality but for now I feel a little ridiculous getting to do this stuff mid-week. How did my desk job day-dreams actually happen?!? Oh yeah, Joe’s desk job got moved overseas but I think it’s safe to say that we’re both winning here :)
Back to the market…Sunbury opens at 6:30am and goes until 2pm. It makes for a very early day but I’d much rather shop in the wee hours anyway when the air is crisp, my energy tank is full and I can go at a leisurely pace. As soon as I walked in I knew that the trek down there was worth it. There were more vendors within stones throw than I’d seen at any other market in London thus far. I did a little dance and carried along to see what I would find. Similar to the Rose Bowl Flea Market, vendors are spread out all over the parking lot and the outside ring of the stadium. What’s nice about Sunbury is that they also have two indoor areas which came in handy when the weather turned and continued shopping required shelter from the scattered rain.
I found the market to be very easy to shop based on what you’re looking for though it’s still worth it to weave in and out of all of the areas if you have the time. The vendors were knowledgeable about their products, prices were fair, and the atmosphere was light-hearted. It was actually the most fun I’ve had photographing at a flea market since each vendor was happy to let me take a snap (very unlike Paris’s Vanves Market, that was like pulling teeth!). Some vendors even joked about receiving royalties while another suggested I take photos of him wrapped in the fur coats he was selling. I should have taken him up on that. Next time.
Last Thursday I spent the morning combing the aisles of the Old Spitalfields’ antique market. I can’t believe that it took me so long to get out to a London treasure trove! Perhaps Paris’s Vanves Market was that good?
I really enjoyed hunting at Old Spitalfields despite it feeling more commercial than traditional markets. Well actually, the location is where markets (previously food) have been held since the 1800′s. So it is traditional but today a modern shopping center surrounds the historical square.
What’s nice is that the market was totally manageable in size for a morning visit. The vendors were super friendly and there was a little bit of everything for all curiosities. I was hoping for some more furniture since that’s where my head is at but no such luck. I did however find some great pieces for future projects and a few knick knacks for the home like my first English tea cup!
I’ll definitely go back soon and also take advantage of its proximity to the famed indie shopping street, Brick Lane. There is much to see and do in this town!
Descriptions + more photos here!
It’s Good Friday with Easter on Sunday and here that means two Bank Holidays for Joe! We’re going to take advantage of his four-day weekend to stay in the city and do some exploring, a stay-cation if you will.
Above are some photos from our first European flea market, Vanves in Paris, France. There are several big options for antiquing in Paris but we chose Vanves for its smaller scale and reputation for quality and enthusiastic vendors. There were so many pieces that were real treats due to their age, unlike anything you could find at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in LA. In a nutshell, everything was so interesting that even Joe turned into a flea-hunting enthusiast. He usually just comes along for moral support but items rarely catch his eye.
Here’s what we found with more here:
1. Me in my “habitat” looking through wood block letters
2. Could be a vanity of an elegant Parisian woman in the late 1800′s
3. Solid aluminum baking tins that make me wish I was a bona fide baker, or any kind of baker for that matter
4. A well-traveled suitcase overflowing with tales from near and far
5. Old books always look so beautiful, especially when different volumes and collections are colorfully paired together
6. Rolling piano sessions, yes please! The cigarette in his mouth is classic
7. Tiny rolls of film…wonder what sorts of magic they contain…
8. Pretty Parisian textiles primed for great sewing projects. I should have stocked up but I’ll leave that for the next trip. Perfect excuse, right?
I hope to have more flea market inspirations next week. Until then have a wonderful weekend, enjoy!!!
Hi everyone. I hope you had a great weekend!
I spent Sunday afternoon doing what I love to do most: flea market shopping. Here’s what I found…
1. tiny product samples and promotional materials from dentists to restaurants. love how they were displayed giving each piece its own space
2. bakelite bangles + green shag carpet = amazing
3. not usually into owls but the colors and texture of these really tickled my fancy
4. standard post used to be so colorful
5. how beautiful would a cluster of wine bottles look with these glass toppers?
6. plastic wicker handbags looking mighty primp and proper
See what I bought + more finds on my flickr page.