Flea market still drawing hordes to University of Puget Sound

Staff writerMarch 22, 2014 

They still call it a “flea market,” but the name hardly fits anymore.

The annual springtime event, which for the past 46 years has turned the University of Puget Sound Fieldhouse into a vast garage sale, was noticeably classier this year.

Its sponsor, the UPS Women’s League, is edging away from junk and into crafts.

“We’re building on the great tradition of the market, but we kept hearing that we needed more diversity,” said Lynn Raisl, president of the Women’s League and co-chair of the market. “It was very flea market — more like garage sale stuff — which is great, but people were coming in and saying, ‘It’s all the same.’ ”

At Saturday’s sale, approximately half of the 58 vendors were selling antiques and other repurposed goods; the other half were craftspeople and local businesses selling handmade goods such as jewelry, jams, candles, greeting cards and handbags.

“Now we’re calling it the Flea Market and Fieldhouse Full of Awesome Stuff,” Raisl said.

The admission price went up, too — from $3 to $5. Still, there was a line a half-hour before the doors opened at 9 a.m., and Raisl estimated between 3,000 and 4,000 people attended.

Proceeds from the event support University of Puget Sound scholarships. Last year, Raisl said, the Women’s League contributed $33,000 to 13 UPS students.

Not everyone was thrilled with the change. “It’s cool that they have different stuff, but the prices seem pretty high,” said Jani Brock, a Tacoma accountant.

Brock was thrilled, though, with a rack of 80 pairs of used cowboy boots set out by Pure Vintage Clothing, a Tacoma retailer. The boots were $10 a pair. Brock bought two pairs.

“These prices are perfect,” she said.

The flea market is the largest event organized by the UPS Women’s League each year. It started in 1968, after a member of the League traveled to Paris and was inspired by a visit to a flea market there.

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693; rob.carson@thenewstribune.com

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