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Flea Day: Dodger Stadium

July 19, 2010

Where's the stuff?

After much hype, the first-ever L.A. Flea Market was held today at Dodger Stadium. I, of course, had to be there to see first-hand whether it would be, as organizer Phillip Dane (founder of Melrose Trading Post) called it, a “more upscale version of the Rose Bowl” flea market. After all, Dane promised a flea market that was taken “to the next level” and that he had “hand-picked” only the best vendors. Well, even allowing for the fact that this was the first iteration of what he says will be a monthly event, this flea market did not wow. Actually, I’m not even sure it should be called a flea market. In my mind, a flea market is 99% old, funky, interesting, one-of-a-kind junk’n’stuff. It’s not new age kitsch, mass produced aromatherapy candles, or scripture-based jewelry. Nor, is it bejeweled gladiator sandals, stamped fingernail art, Kangoo Jump ‘rebound exercise shoes’ or sticky dashboard pads … Unfortunately, the majority of the booths at this flea market featured all of those items, and others, making this, in my mind, more swap meet than bona-fide flea market …

Our LAFM adventure began pre-dawn, as we wanted to be sure to arrive on time for the higher priced VIP ‘early bird’ entry at 7am. We set out from Riverside around 6am, and arrived almost exactly on time. That was when we ran into our first sign of trouble …

The big line

See, the parking lot wasn’t open yet … and it would not open for another 40 minutes! Inquiries would be made as to the hold-up and we were told that ‘they’ weren’t ready yet, and, until ‘they’ radioed down that they were, the lot would remain closed. As cars piled up behind us, people were becoming more and more agitated and soon there was disgruntled mass horn-honking. It didn’t matter, though, and after a bladder-busting 40 minutes we finally were allowed into the lot … following some mis-direction by staffers, we made our way to the ticket booth where we were treated to a loud argument (a shopper found paying the full $10 admission price a bit much after the delayed 7am opening) … finally, tickets in hand, we made it through the gates. Post porta-potty (phew!) we were treated to the sight of vendors just-arriving and only beginning to set up … even though it was almost an hour past the ‘early bird’ opening time! Deciding that the good stuff was being unpacked still, we decided to visit the much-vaunted foodie trucks touted as part of the LAFM’s elevated amenities package.

Rolling restaurants

Thanks, Debbie!

The trucks were there, each with a groovy paint job to match either their home restaurant or culinary focus; there was quite a variety, too, with gourmet meatballs, sushi, traditional deli staples, soft serve, Hawaiian shave ice, and highly spiced specialties from Vietnam, Mexico and India. But, like their fellow booth vendors, they were not ready to open. And worse, not one seemed to have coffee, the most important amenity for any early bird! Thankfully, an enterprising chef, (and runner-up on TV’s Next Food Network Star reality show) Debbie Lee, was able to put together a hearty breakfast for us of eggs scrambled with thinly sliced Korean beef, fried rice and Korean hot sauce-spiced potatoes: yum! This, and a diet Coke later, and I was sated. I’d avoided missing my regular breakfast time (and the grumpiness that that would provoke) and was ready to shop … surely now everyone would be set up, right?

Note to organizers: the food trucks were set up in a circular formation, with the eating area in the center. This was not the greatest idea, as many of the trucks were kept running and their exhaust mixed with cooking fumes to noxious effect. It didn’t stop us from eating but we did it quickly, so we could escape this air-polluted corral effect.

So, was there anything good, you ask? There was — but you had to traipse through long rows of the stuff  I described in the first paragraph, to get to it. Here’re my faves:

Succulent tidiness

These tidy succulent arrangements were nice …

Succulents under glass

… as were these terrariums. Not surprising, or uncommon, but nice. There were a couple of other succulent vendors, too …

High priced specimens

This vendor had some nice specimens on offer, but they were high-priced compared to those I’ve seen at other flea markets, especially Long Beach. There, a small aloe like the tiered version at far right would be half the $60 price. Probably larger, too!

Rousseau-esque

Looking like a Rousseau jungle scene out on the asphalt, this vendor showed a bright array of exotic tropicals. Not wishing to subject them to the surely fatal 100°+ temperatures of Riverside, I had to keep it moving …

Vintage peepers

Loved these vintage eyeglass frames, but there were so many to choose from I couldn’t decide which I wanted. Plus, I was a bit unnerved seeing frames I wore in the 70s … and 80s … and 90s …

Well-sculpted

On this table a pair of ultra-modern cherry red speakers rubbed elbows with a nicely-acrobatic figurative sculpture made of wood, while …

Fowl subject

… a nearby booth featured intriguing prints and paintings by an artist with a poultry obsession. He explained that he’d been depicting these birds since his (long-past) high school 4H club days. Some of the pieces were quietly bird-y, with placid fat hens sitting prettily … others, like these, seemed to show a darker side of the artist’s interest.

Sea nymph

I love concrete, and things encrusted, so I was attracted to this undersea goddess. Come to find out, although the shells are real, she’s just a fiberglass mannequin torso, and not heavy at all. The creator of this piece had assembled it all, top-coating it finally with a slurry of concrete and sand, for this effect.  Note to self: The Rancho’s Pagan Temple could use something made this way …

Well-heeled urn

This urn caught my eye, because I bought two similar cast iron versions at a garage sale here in Riverside for $75 a couple months back. This one was marked at $250! Ah, how the proximity to Los Angeles changes the cost of things …

Not-melting

This vendor had some great Japanese antique items, including furniture, pottery and commercial signage. I really loved this lighted ice cream cone display piece, but didn’t have the energy to inquire as to its cost. Unlike it, I was on the verge of melting in the full-on heat of the day. It was just before 10am, and we were done. We had seen the items destined for the charity auction (to be hosted later by Disco Duck’s daddy, Rick Dees), missed the live bands (here’s hoping they’d be equipped with personal mist-ers, like we’d seen being sold at one of the booths), and bought nothing (bypassing the need for the well-publicized carry-out service).

Am I sorry I went to this first LAFM? No. Will I go back? Probably not… Because, while this was being held at Dodger Stadium, the Long Beach Flea Market was taking place at Veteran’s Stadium, and I really wish I’d gone to it instead. It’s more what I consider a true flea market, and a dependable source of great, old, interesting stuff … Sure, Long Beach’s idea of breakfast is nachos with radioactive cheese product, but I’d gladly trade a trendy food truck for that and great junk’n’stuff, than endure what I found at Dodger Stadium today … and, as founder of the Melrose Trading Post, Mr. Dane should know you can’t call it a flea market if it’s not. Flea marketeers are a dedicated and serious lot and they will call you on it!

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2010 1:45 am

    I thought about going for a nanosecond. You really are dedicated, and in this heat too! Thanks for the review. (Bet that was the Kogi truck you ate off…)

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 19, 2010 1:56 pm

      Thanks, Denise… what a missed opportunity!

  2. Sharon Neely permalink
    July 19, 2010 3:12 am

    Thanks for the info thought about going and you are right LB is the ultimate flea market.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 19, 2010 1:57 pm

      Long Beach is the best. Better than Rose Bowl (too big, and full of itself)!

  3. Frank! permalink
    July 19, 2010 6:01 am

    I’m very impressed with your post. Great insight, detail.
    I publish Collector magazine; it’s all about the local antique biz.
    Here are the photos I have shot over the last couple of years.
    http://picasaweb.google.com/collectormagazine
    Frank!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 19, 2010 2:01 pm

      Hey, Frank, thanks for the comment and for showing me your photo albums. Great stuff, and I see lots of faces from local fleas. Part of the fun of doing this blog is using my point-n-shoot to illustrate my points. I’m adding you to my blogroll as of today!

  4. July 19, 2010 6:21 am

    this thing was an absolute disaster. i mean, to pay 5 dollars for the privilege to rifle through this stuff? no i don’t want a stress test, and i don’t want “3d christian art”, and i don’t want san rio surprises! really, really bad. i was kind of stunned. big thumbs down. such a great opportunity, and so badly blown. why couldn’t they approximate the rose bowl market? bottom line : if you’re charging an entrance fee this is W A Y short of the mark.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 19, 2010 2:02 pm

      Agreed, as you know… thanks for the comment, JB!

  5. NRB permalink
    July 19, 2010 6:25 pm

    I was disappointed even though I got a nice pair of custom clip-on sunglasses to replace my cheapo CVS pair, which broke last week, and a coolio Homegirls Industries tote bag. Everything else was overpriced and uninspiring. And there was no one selling just drinks. Food trucks in the stinky diesel circle were running out of drinks before they ran out of food. Not sure I’ll go back…

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 19, 2010 6:29 pm

      As you can tell, I’m sure, I was quite disgruntled!

  6. Megan permalink
    July 20, 2010 12:26 am

    Sounds terrible!!!! We still haven’t gotten over to the Alameda Flea Market… One of these days.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 20, 2010 12:41 am

      I really wanted it to be great… hence my disappointment… I would love to go Alameda one day… I’ve heard it’s awesome!

  7. Deborah permalink
    July 20, 2010 3:36 pm

    I was a vendor on Sunday and I had a good time, of course there are bugs to work out the first time, but overall I made some money and spent some also. It was hot and I gave out water to vendors and patrons, but I would definitely give it one more shot. Late in the afternoon we got a cool breeze and that gave me a second wind! But I would have killed for a cup of coffee, I think anyone who would have sold that precious liquid would have made a mint!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 20, 2010 3:45 pm

      Hi, Deborah, I’m glad you had a good day … and thanks for commenting. I’d have to let the memory of this first one pass, and have great reports from true flea marketeers before I returned to this market…

  8. Vjensen permalink
    July 23, 2010 9:46 pm

    Yah I was a vendor as well and the reason why we weren’t set up is because we all got there at 5 a.m. to get in to set up but were stuck in line for an hour since there was only one entrance for was well over 500 cars…otherwise we would have been set up…and those of us renting tent and tables…had to scour the place to figure out where to get it…which took much longer. However, I do think the kinks will be worked out and hopefully less junk and more screening…but money is money

    • reubix1 permalink*
      July 23, 2010 9:56 pm

      Howdy, thanks for your comment … not that it’s a good thing, but it’s interesting to know the misery wasn’t just on our (the shopper’s) end! I’ll go back but only after a reliable flea marketeer or two gives me a decent report… though I don’t know of any who’ll be returning…

  9. August 5, 2010 3:20 am

    Wow. I was not happy with the start of the day myself and rest assured that will never be repeated… With that said, I am sorry you had such a bad experience. If I was to just look at the photos, I would have to say that it looked pretty good to me. As with any new deal, things need to be worked out in the beginning. We did in fact have many great antique dealers and vintage dealers as well as the new merch section. I am proud of the event and think that in all honesty, you are a bit off the mark on the validity of this new “flea market.” I could go on to defend myself and the market but I will not. We had 13,000 guests attend and for most part, all were very excited. Our bands and food trucks were a huge hit not simply a “trend.” The new design is sure to be well received and the beer garden will place for next show on August 29th. I have put in cool zones for people to sit, grab a water and relax through out the market. But hey, perhaps we are not for you… There’s always Long Beach as you have stated many many many times.

    I do want to add that in screening vendors, we can only go on what the vendor tells us. I do not go to each vendor prior to the event and do an inventory check… wish I could but it’s a bit too time consuming. That “junk” tends to get weeded out anyway as the people that come to this event don’t buy the junk and then the junk finds a new venue (like Long Beach) just kidding.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 5, 2010 3:38 am

      Hi, Phillip, thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. I’m sure you took from it that I’m a cranky flea marketeer with high expectations. I guess I just wanted the experience to match the hype, and reward my efforts to be there. I’ll check you out again in a few shows and by then the kinks will be worked out, I hope. In any case I’ll post on that visit too. See you then! Reuben

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