By JEFF CLEMETSON | La Mesa Courier
Local residents nostalgic for the days when strolling through La Mesa’s Downtown Village meant popping in and out of the plethora of antique stores in search of the perfect vintage knickknack or piece of furniture will soon be able to enjoy a new vintage shopping experience when the San Diego Vintage Flea Market moves to Grossmont Center at the end of March.
Held every fourth Sunday of the month, the San Diego Flea Market began in 2012 with 32 vendors at the Masonic Lodge in El Cajon, said market founder Michelle Enders.
“We were there for just about a year and outgrew the space very fast,” she said. By the time the market moved to its next location, the lot behind what is now the Observatory Theater in North Park, there were 76 vendors and eventually grew to average between 95 and 100.
“But our biggest was last month when we managed to squeeze in 110 vendors,” Enders said. “The space was quite small for having that many vendors so we knew that it’s been time for us to seek bigger opportunities where there’s room for us to grow in.”
Size restraints, coupled with the fact that the lot behind the Observatory will soon be cleared to make a pocket park for North Park residents, prompted Enders to look elsewhere, eventually landing in Grossmont Center.
“After knowing the history of Grossmont and working closely with the family that owns it, I am really excited for the move. I think it’s going to be a great transition for shoppers, for sellers, for everyone,” Enders said, adding that the space for the market — the lot between Chuze Fitness and Fuddruckers — has the potential for 500 vendors.
The vendors at the San Diego Vintage Flea Market are more “upscale” and are carefully curated by Enders.
“When you hear ‘flea market,’ people think of more of a swap meet, but that’s not the way we are,” she said. “This is people’s livelihoods, this is how they’re
making money. They’re bringing items that you’re not necessarily seeing anywhere else.”
Items typical of flea market vendors include vintage clothes furniture, pottery, and “a little bit of everything you think would be there,” Enders said. “We have one vendor who specializes in vintage stemware. That’s their forte, these phenomenal 1920s, 1930s, 1940s glassware, like stuff you might find in a speakeasy. Everyone has their own niche, all the vendors, and they do such a good job at it.”
What won’t be found are “as-seen-on-TV” items, car parts, or the kinds of items found when people clean out their garages.
“Vendors seek out the items they bring to the market. It’s not just them cleaning out their closet,” she added.
In addition to vintage items, the market also has a “Makers’ Row” for local businesses that make new products and the move to Grossmont has allowed Enders to expand this section of the market. In addition to expanding the makers’ section, Grossmont Center is looking to possibly add a beer garden for shoppers during the markets.
The San Diego Vintage Flea Market will open on March 22 at Grossmont Center, 5500 Grossmont Center Drive. Market hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For questions about the market or to inquire about becoming a vendor, email Michelle Enders at email@example.com, or visit sdvintagefleamarket.com.
— Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.