Totally Bazaar

The weekly Caravan Flea Market breaks ground for nomadic artisans, crafters and collectors alike.

Artist Amanda Rae displays artwork for sale to Liz Hallstein and daughter Mira on Saturday at the Caravan Flea Market in Minneapolis.

Artist Amanda Rae displays artwork for sale to Liz Hallstein and daughter Mira on Saturday at the Caravan Flea Market in Minneapolis.

Martina Marosi

 

What: Caravan Flea Market

When: Noon -6 p.m., Saturdays

Where: 2209 S. Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis

Cost: Free

Age: All ages

 

Its name may evoke images of world-weary, billowy-pantaloon-wearing, vaguely late 19th century merchants packing and unpacking their wares while someone, somewhere, is reading a crystal ball. However, the breezy atmosphere inside the storefront that houses the Caravan Flea Market is sunny and fresh — bringing with it a unique take on both sides of the micro-market experience.

Back in July, Caravan Flea Market organizers Matthew Harris, Mike Bailey and Diane Brandes conceived  the weekly event as a way to showcase local artists and collectors while connecting them to local retail opportunities. Think Etsy but in-store.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is kind of dissolve the barriers to affordable market access that exist in this city,” Bailey said.

The propped-open door of the storefront gives the interior of the Market a looping soundtrack of Lyndale’s passing traffic but also serves as an apt metaphor for what seems to be policy for both vendors and visitors alike.

The market brings together individuals that can run the gamut from jewelry-makers to vintage clothiers, record-collectors to tarot card readers.

“We’re doing a social experiment,” Harris said. “I like seeing what can happen when people come together for a common reason.”

Minneapolis artist Celestine Pueringer initially got involved through her friendship with Brandes and has been a market vendor since it kicked off in July.

“When the opportunity came up, [Brandes] told me about it, and I jumped the gun,” Pueringer said.

Pueringer has her own laser-cutting and engraving business, but the Market is currently one of her only opportunities to sell her own crafts at a physical venue.

Cloth necklaces and laser-cut elbow patches lay next to “travel-sized” wood dominos, buttons and hand-drawn designs etched onto wood coasters — a collection the artist describes as “lots of random little trinkets,” Pueringer said. “Some things are very useful, and some things are not useful at all.”

Harris noted that — while the market has its share of members that have been on board since the beginning — there are occasionally a few new vendors that catch wind of the project and reach out to the organizers.

Vintage-clothing collector and re-seller Jill West is a relative new-comer who got involved after a friend sent her a link about the event via Facebook, and West decided to pursue setting up her own booth at the market.

“This is my dream,” West said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I’ve always loved doing … This has made it an affordable way to do it, and I just really love the people here.”
West daylights as a supervisor in a call center, and the market’s “social-entrepreneurship” model has given the vendors like West the possibility to dive into their interests without breaking the bank.

“It’s an opportunity to do something outside of your normal job and sell your own passions,” organizer Brandes said.

West’s experience as a vendor taps into the market’s ethos. Even when the waves of customers ebb and flow — with the coming and going of the Uptown Art Fair, the arrival of cold weather — enthusiasm runs high and appears to be self-sustaining.

“Right now a lot of people’s motivation is just the nice feeling they have in here,” Harris said, who also alluded to a new stage in the development of Caravan Flea Market into more than a weekend project.

Currently, this weekend’s market is the last event of its kind the trio has committed to “on paper” as they transition to a second phase of their project.

 Even as the state of the craft-union is in flux, classic market standbys will be there Saturday to soothe crafters and customers old and new through the creative process.

“We’ll definitely have music,” Bailey said. “We’ll definitely have free coffee.”