Pamela Keech travelled across the US in search of the best vintage and antique markets for her book. Here we pick five of the best, from the Brooklyn Flea to an 800-mile yard sale
Brooklyn Flea, New York
It was born in 2008 and took about five minutes to become the country’s must-go-to market. It may not be for everyone and there aren’t many classical antiques, but for anything vintage or mid-century modern, Brooklyn Flea is the place. Think original and refurbished furniture, colour-saturated kitchenware, knick-knacks, art, lamps, fashion, past-season designer shoes. There’s handmade, too: Brooklyn kitchen towels, Brooklyn onesies, Brooklyn T-shirts, and plenty of jewellery in many forms.
The market is held every weekend year round with pretty much the same vendors, who are handpicked by the founders. In the warm months, it’s set up outdoors on two different sites. Every Saturday, it fills a schoolyard across from the Masonic Temple in Fort Greene. On Sunday, it sits on the edge of the East River in north Williamsburg with a grand view of Manhattan. In the winter, you’ll find it indoors at a raggedly ornate old bank building, right off Flatbush Avenue.
As the outdoor markets grow so does peripheral shopping. On Saturday stoop sales pop up in Fort Greene’s classic brownstone neighbourhoods. Sunday shoppers can wander off for more browsing along Bedford Avenue. And one mustn’t forget that the Flea is regarded as New York City’s top pick-up spot.
• Summer market: 176 Lafayette Avenue (between Clermont and Vanderbilt avenues), April to late November, Saturday 10am to 5pm. East River State Park (on the waterfront at North 7th Street), April to late November, Sunday 10am to 5pm. Winter market: Skylight One Hanson, 1 Hanson Place (at Ashland Place), December through March, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm; brooklynflea.com
The Historic National Road Yard Sale, Maryland to Missouri
There is no better excuse for a road trip than this 824-mile yard sale along America’s oldest highway. It was started in 2003 by Patricia McDaniel and is held every year just after Memorial Day weekend, following Historic National Road (US Route 40): it starts in Baltimore, crosses the Appalachian mountains, dips into West Virginia and Pennsylvania, then rolls through the heartlands all the way to St Louis. Anything goes, as everyone from lone farmers to entire towns drag their cast-offs to the road and the bargaining begins.
Each year more sellers pop up. They are particularly plentiful in Maryland, Ohio and Indiana. The Historic National Road Yard Sale page on Facebook has running commentary on what’s happening where. Random sales open on Wednesday and Thursday; the best days are Friday and Saturday; Sunday is spotty. Antique malls and shops also keep longer hours during the sale, and pop-up stores appear in abandoned gas stations and old sheds. Clumps of parked cars ahead herald sales with the best stuff. Traffic can be heavy with gawking adding to the hazard factor, so extra caution for both drivers and pedestrians is a must.
• Route 40 from Baltimore, Maryland to St Louis, Missouri. Wednesday to Sunday, following Memorial Day, a public holiday on the last Monday in May.
Lincoln Road Antique and Collectible Market, Miami Beach, Florida
Scores of dealers set up along Lincoln Road in South Beach, squeezed in between pavement cafes. The hungry and hungover need not suffer; coffee or brunch can be had every nine paces, and an eye can be kept on that Hollywood Regency lamp while sipping a Bloody Mary. It’s held during winter when it can be hot or rainy, but who cares when there are finds like these to covet?
It’s set on Lincoln Road Mall, which is not a stuffy indoor shopping centre but rather an esplanade of fancy shops and restaurants with tropical flora down the middle. White pop-up tents extend for blocks.
Interior design professionals search for perfect accents for their latest clients; stylists are out for vintage designer clothing and accessories. They’re here because they know it’s possible to find pieces by top mid-century designers such as George Nelson and Anne Fogarty. Jewellery is everywhere.
The furniture selection focuses on mid-century modern, because it is perfectly suited to one of Miami’s signature architectural styles, mimo (Miami modern). Art deco, for which Miami is famous, is also well represented.
And then there’s the gloriously kitsch – the following have been spotted: vintage poodle purses, various ashtrays sporting alligators, a child’s tricycle done up like a Harley, cigarette case with octopus decoration. The winner? A gilded wheelchair upholstered with faux tiger fur.
• Lincoln Road Mall, from Lenox Avenue to Meridian Avenue, mid-October to the first weekend in May, every other Sunday, 8am to 6pm, antiquecollectiblemarket.com
Randolph Street Market, Chicago, Illinois
Over in the West Loop near Ogden Park, the sassy Randolph Street Market is busy rivalling the Brooklyn Flea. This event is three-in-one: an outdoor flea market, Chicago Antique Market, and Indie Designer Market. All happen concurrently in and around Plumbers Hall, an art deco union hall where plumbers still meet when the building is not full of antiques or rented out for an event.
Vendors come from across the country. In warm weather, they set up outdoors in the parking lot, with antiques, industrial furnishings, kitschy paintings, trinkets, and lots of second-hand clothing. Some of the best outfits on display are those worn by shoppers, in their head-turning combinations of handmade and vintage clothes.
The Indie Designer Market takes up the lower level, with handmade jewellery, cuddly scarves and shawls, toys and homeware. Spring and autumn bring Modern Vintage Chicago, a fantastic weekend of designer vintage clothing and dazzling jewellery.
Holiday markets in November and December are essentially parties that include shopping. The market charges admission ($10), but offers discount tickets online.
• 1350 West Randolph Street and 1340 West Washington Boulevard (between North Ada Street and North Ogden Street). Randolph Street Market: first weekend in February, last weekend in March to October, 10am to 5pm. Modern Vintage Chicago, May and October, see website for dates and times. Holiday market: November and December. See website for dates and times, randolphstreetmarket.com
Round Top/Warrenton Antiques Week, Carmine to La Grange, Texas
It is entirely possible that for one week every spring and another in the autumn, there is no place on Earth more fun than Round Top. Five tiny towns are strung together by nobody knows how many antique shows, which slip from one marvel to the next for a good 30 miles. Bring your boots and your rhinestones, and get ready to dance.
The market runs north-south along Highway 237, between Highway 290 and Highway 17, in the lovely central Texas hill country. Shows last for a week to 10 days, with staggered openings. Pick up a copy of Show Daily (showdaily.us) for listings, dates and maps.
It all started in 1967 when Miss Emma Lee Turney was asked to put on a little antique show at the Round Top Rifle Association Hall. The show soon became the darling of Houston ladies who belonged to the Garden Club of America and were known as the “mink, martini, and manure” set. Now thousands of highly interesting antique and vintage dealers come from all across the country to set up along the route. Many of the shows revolve around dance halls, simple clapboard buildings erected by German and Czech immigrants in the late 19th century.
The Original Round Top Antiques Fair is the whopping “show that started it all”. The Big Red Barn and Tent are famous for top quality Texas primitives, Americana and classic antiques. The Continental Tent feels like a quick trip to Europe and always has fine pieces. A fourth venue is a few miles away at the Carmine Dance Hall. There’s a shuttle bus back and forth.
• Highway 237 from Carmine to La Grange, Texas spring. Last week of March and first week of April. Last week of September and first week of October antiqueweekend.com
This is an excerpt from the Best Flea, Antique, Vintage and New-Style Markets in America by Pamela Keech, published by The Little Bookroom and distributed by Frances Lincoln Publishers, £13.99.
Link to article: feeds.theguardian.com/c/34708/f/663875/s/3318395d/sc/10/l/0L0Stheguardian0N0Ctravel0C20A130Coct0C30A0Cbest0Eflea0Emarkets0Evintage0Eus/story01.htm