Editors' pick

The District Flea


Editorial Review

Brooklyn import gets a D.C. trial run
By Lavanya Ramanathan
Friday, September 20, 2013

The stream of people through the gates for the inaugural District Flea last Saturday started early and didn’t stop until all deer antlers, leather motorcycle jackets and Daft Punk LPs had been examined and the food stalls had begun to run out of the staples.

A $70 cerulean faux Louis Vuitton bag here, a kale taco there, hipster babies pretty much everywhere: In some ways, that sums up the attractions of the new Shaw marketplace run by the organizers of New York’s uber--hip Brooklyn Flea.

Each week, 70 to 80 vendors of antique furniture and vintage clothing will set up shop in this 37,000--square--foot, freshly asphalted lot adjacent to the 9:30 Club and Satellite Room. The flea market continues for five more Saturdays, through Oct. 19, but organizers say a return next spring could be in the works if this fall’s trial run proves successful.

Here are answers to a few of your inevitable questions:

What’s for sale exactly?

Antique furniture, some in original mid--century condition and some reworked and repainted by the sellers to have an updated look. Small antiques, like the aforementioned taxidermy, but also plenty of lamps, mirrors and the like. During last week’s flea, the 15 or so clothing vendors did a bang--up business selling denim, leather motorcycle jackets, kitschy dresses, purses and plenty of rhinestone jewelry. Hugh McIntosh, manager of District Flea, says that some vendors responded to a callout but that he also selected sellers from the District, Baltimore, Pennsylvania and Delaware through Etsy and other sites to bring in must--buy items. Washington’s Gypsy de la Lune brought glittery vintage dresses, and the grungy dudes of Joint Custody brought ’80s and ’90s rock T--shirts and a box of vinyl records. A few, such as Ciao Nina, which sells small hats, offered handmade accessories. There is no one style represented at the Flea, but the unifier, McIntosh says, is that “the bar is high. We did say ‘no’ to a lot of people.”

It sounds expensive. is it?

“There’s going to be a lot of stuff in the $20 to $100 range,” McIntosh says, though he adds that the Flea “doesn’t police prices” and doesn’t select vendors based on their price points. During last week’s fair we spied such items as a pair of lamps for $175 and dresses for $40. Many vendors accept credit cards, but on opening day, a few did not; be sure to bring cash, because the nearest ATM is outside the market.

shopping makes me hungry.
what can i eat?

The Brooklyn Flea is a food destination: a collection of every street--dining trend, from doughnuts to tacos, all in one place. And District Flea is shaping up to be a mini--showcase of Washington’s burgeoning food community. Among the stars: Chaya, the farmers market staple that serves vegetarian--friendly tacos, drew long lines for its lacinato kale and mushroom tacos ($3.50 each or $9 for three); and Vigilante Coffee, which roasts its beans in Northeast Washington, was making pour--over coffees and espresso drinks for an epic line of chilly fleagoers. Red Apron Butchery’s Nathan Anda served upscale hot dogs at his popular cart, while local ice--cream maker Milk Cult served scoops of sweet corn and blackberry ice cream. A few picnic tables provided an easy place to nosh and socialize. Beginning this week and continuing through the season, ChurchKey’s Greg Engert will man a small beer garden, so you’ll be able to sip, too.