When the UPS Flea Market was started by the Women’s League in 1968, the inspiration was a Paris market where you could scour through second-hand items for treasures. Now, the vintage is mixed up with the new, thanks to an ever-increasing roster of local makers — and it’s that mix that is the secret to the market’s success, say organizers. On Saturday, the 48th annual market will feature more than 60 local vendors, including food trucks and a new antique valuation booth where you can bring your own treasures.
“It has been our goal to highlight local and South Sound businesses and independent creatives,” says co-chairwoman Amy VanZandt. “We feel that they are integral to our success and are why we have done increasingly well over the last three years.”
Last year the market saw more than 3,000 attendees, and raised $31,000 for student scholarships at the university. The Women’s League, which runs the market as a fundraiser, has also been seeing more new members join to volunteer for the event.
New vendors this year include Megan’s Pyrex, featuring vintage Pyrex, kitchenware and toys; PopUp Kids with vintage kids clothing; and Capable Father, a stay-at-home dad who creates jewelry out of repurposed chandelier drops and old book pages.
“I visited last year and it was such an incredible event,” says Michelle Nicholson, owner of PopUp Kids. Ready to grow her at-home business, she had been planning on doing outside events. The Flea Market is her first. “I’m really excited,” she says.
Returning veterans include vintage booths The Curious Deer and Anew Thyem, Hipichiki and JohnBob Cool Junk; letterpress artists Anagram Press, Springtide Press and Tim + April; and Year Round Co, which sells bags and teatowels made of hand-designed and printed fabric.
“The attendance really surprised us and the diversity of the vendors,” says Scott Scoggin, co-owner of Year Round Co, who was at the Flea Market for the first time last year. “And the response to our work was great.”
“I think they’re getting the right mix,” adds his wife and business partner Jacqui Scoggin. “There’s a little bit of everything.”
A new map on the league’s website will let shoppers choose and find vendors before they get there — an important service in the crowded Memorial Fieldhouse, which this year is also undergoing construction.
There will also be more food to choose from, with Mythical Caramels and the VietNomNom food truck (out front from 11 a.m.) joining Ice Cream Social (in the lobby), Valhalla Coffee and Only Oatmeal Cookies.
Longtime booth Grandma’s Attic (second-hand household goods) and the books and furniture area will still be there. New this year, however, is “Trash or Trinket,” an antique valuation booth running from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., staffed by certified antique experts. ($5 per item, limit two items per visit.) And you can also donate items in good condition by bringing them to the fieldhouse from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday.
Featuring more local artisans has meant a wider demographic coming to the market, says VanZandt.
“Just through observation, it seems the demographic is shifting younger as we have added more repurposed items, as well as artists and crafters,” she explains. “This is a great community event and offers an excellent opportunity to showcase and celebrate these remarkable, creative and very hard working small businesses, while having a great time and raising money for scholarships.”
UPS Flea Market and Fieldhouse of Awesome Stuff
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, March 19 (Early bird 8:15 a.m.). Valuations 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Memorial Fieldhouse, University of Puget Sound, North 11th Street and Union Avenue, Tacoma.
Entry: $5 donation (Early bird $10). Valuations $5 per item.