Founded in 2011, The City Flea has been a vital part of the small business community of Cincinnati for almost a decade. Having hosted over 400 local vendors to date, the market offers a platform for local entrepreneurs and creators to introduce their goods to the community and grow their businesses. From food to plants to jewelry to vintage dealers, there’s something for almost everyone at every market.
City Flea will be hosting its first in-person market since March on Aug. 15 at Washington Park, and they are excited to be back with their annual KIDS MARKET — where young makers set-up booths to sell their wares — along with their usual line-up of local vendors.
We chatted with Lindsay Dewald, co-owner/founder, and her husband Nick via email to get some details about the market’s history, future and, of course, precautions they are taking hosting a public gathering in the age of COVID-19.
CityBeat: During these unprecedented times, how have things changed for the market?
The City Flea: Well, so far this year, we've canceled every live event we had scheduled from May-July. (The first time in 9 years we have ever canceled an event.) We hosted two virtual markets that went great. One in May and one in July. Not at all the same as an actual Flea but it was wonderful to still provide a space for vendors to showcase and sell goods, especially in these weird times when so many rely on our markets for income.
We held the virtual markets on our Instagram page, @thecityflea, where each vendor got a single post (up to 10 images) and then the whole market was saved to a story highlight so shoppers can continue to shop and support the artists, makers and small businesses that participated to this day.
CB: As the other markets have been canceled this summer, what specific tactics are you using with this one to make sure people can social distance while shopping?
CF: For starters, we are only going to be having about 60% of vendors we would normally have so that we are able to space everyone out and create a nice flow with our layout.
Masks are required for both vendors and shoppers and we are just asking everyone be respectful, considerate and use common sense when in attendance. All the usual things — please stay home if you have ANY symptoms, keep your hands clean, keep space between yourselves and others, etc.
Being outdoors in the fresh air reduces the risk of spread (versus being in an indoor environment) so with that as a major factor for us and requiring masks, we feel we can safely operate given everyone's cooperation and consideration.
CB: Tell us about the KIDS MARKET.
CF: This will be the fourth year for KIDS MARKET and it remains one of our favorite Flea's of each year! Wares range in goods from artwork to slime to lip gloss to woodwork, screen prints, bath bombs, jewelry, paper goods, crocheted items and more! The creativity and passion is so fun!
The idea for KIDS MARKET came about because of our love for kids, the arts and entrepreneurship. We already knew how to put together a market, why not test the waters and build into the entrepreneurial spirit of the city's kids!? It has been such a fun and rewarding journey so far.
CB: This July you held a virtual Black-owned business and makers market. Do you plan to host another in the future?
CF: Yes! We are planning to host another one in February and then annually after that!
CB: On your website you dub yourself a "small business incubator": Who are some of the businesses we might be familiar with that started at The City Flea?
CF: This part of operating and running the Flea has been one of our greatest joys as business owners. Seeing business go from hobby to full-time gig makes our hearts burst! At this point there are too many to name them all but a few you may know are Fern, Whirlybird Granola, streetpops, Rivertown Inkery and amPM Exchange.
CB: Are there any vendors you are particularly excited about for this upcoming market?
CF: It's been over a year since we've been with our community in person (excluding the Women's Market we hosted in March) so we're excited to see everyone!
CB: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about City Flea?
CF: Just how much we love our city and community. This is our 10th year and while it has not been ideal, we are still so grateful for so many incredible vendors who continue to trust us with new ideas and formats and can be resilient and accommodating with us. It's such a gift to work alongside so many incredibly talented creatives and small businesses!
The City Flea takes place 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Aug. 15 at Washington Park (1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine). Markets for the rest of the year will be held Sept. 19, Oct. 17 and sometime in November, with a special nighttime market Dec. 12.