Get the Most Out of Urban Flea Markets

Cincinnati's Washington Park and The City Flea. #thecityflea #thisisotr

Ya’ll know I love me some handmade goods. And even more so, I love me some locally made handmade goods! Cincinnati has a thriving handmade culture, from The City Flea to the Crafty Supermarket, and so much more. Given my enthusiasm for these types of events, I figured I should share some of the tips I’ve picked up from attending, ahem, a few, over the past few years. So, I give you: Tips for Getting the Most Out of Urban Flea Markets…

The thing I look forward to most about summer in Cincinnati is The City Flea, our “curated urban flea market.” It’s a fun mix of vintage shops, local artists, businesses and eateries hosted in a beautiful urban park in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. It’s my idea of a good time: spending a sunny Saturday browsing the tents with a coffee in hand from one of my favorite local coffee joints. Plus good eats from local food trucks and other cafes.

Delicious Coffee Emporium coffee at The City Flea #thecityflea #coffeemeporium

I hear of a lot of urban flea markets happening in other cities and towns, so maybe this is something you’d like to check out, but you haven’t known what to expect. In my many Saturdays spent at my own city’s Flea, I’ve picked up a few tips that I thought might be helpful to share:

Tip #1: Arrive early, and know it may already be crowded.

Word has gotten around: your city knows that this event is awesome. But still get there early. You might miss some of the post-lunch crowds, and also beat the heat and humidity.

Cincinnati Music Hall on Washington Park is the scene for monthly City Flea events #thecityflea #thisisotr #musichall

Tip #2: Make new friends.

It’s not hard to strike up conversation with the vendors. A simple hello or how are you today? is an easy place to start. Ask questions about the items for sale, ask artists how their jewelry is made, etc. I can bet they’ll be more than happy to talk about their process or the story behind a piece. Making new friends and connecting with local business owners is easy, and it’s fun to return month after month and feel like you’re bumping into old friends. Grab a card from their booth so you can follow along on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Support handmade and local artists. Beautiful copper hammered ring from local artist Some Days Ago #thecityflea #buyhandmade

I met a new jewelry artist at this month’s City Flea: Some Days Ago— a shop that creates beautiful copper jewelry. I had a seriously hard time making a decision: all of her pieces were amazing. And she told me about the patina process she uses, which was really cool, since I know nothing about the ins and outs of copper patina-ing and jewelry making. See, you learn something new every day, right?

Tip #3: Sample the local fare.

I’d venture to guess that most events like this are also a big draw for the local foodie community. At the Cincinnati City Flea, there’s no shortage of local deliciousness to be had: from fresh belgian waffles to coffee to StreetPops to a whole city blog of food trucks dishing out goodies.

Sample food from local food trucks at your local urban flea markets. #thiscityflea #thisisotr #foodtrucks

Tip #4: Support your city. 

Showing up is half the battle, right? Isn’t that how the saying goes? But that’s not quite enough. Make a purchase. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but purchasing from local shops helps keep your local economy going. Independent artists and shop owners put a ton of effort into their businesses. Reward them by supporting their work. While I’ve never had trouble finding items for myself, I also use these events to shop for others for unique birthday and Christmas gifts I’d never find anywhere else.

Air Plant from Fern Studio in Cincinnati #thecityflea #fernstudio

I purchased my first air plant this weekend from Fern Studio. Their booth was full of beautiful planters and floral arrangements!

Does your city have its own urban flea market? Have you been? Did you find a new artist, shop or restaurant that you can’t get enough of now?