Portland Flea-for-All moves uptown

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PORTLAND — New life has been breathed into 585 Congress St., although most of what is now housed in the space is rather old.

The Portland Flea-for-All, which was on Kennebec Street in Bayside, opened for business Oct. 6 in the space occupied for about 40 years by Paul’s Food Center. The owners, husband and wife team Nathaniel Baldwin and Erin Kiley, said they always envisioned being closer to downtown.

The pair has been running Flea-for-All for almost five years.

“It’s something we’ve always been interested in,” Baldwin said. He said both he and Kiley grew up around antiques, and are especially interested in antique furniture. “We thought there was a big hole” in the area for antiques, Baldwin added.

“We have been into collecting and antiquing,” Kiley said. “We’re both very tuned into how creative the local economy in Maine was.”

The store, which is open Thursday through Sunday, has an eclectic mix of things for sale. From antique furniture, such as couches, dining room tables and arm chairs, to vintage clothing and housewares, classic record albums and art, and handmade jewelry, there is no shortage of items for those looking for a blast from the past.

“We started it because we wanted to make a community gathering space,” Baldwin said, adding the store isn’t meant to be a place where people are necessarily expected to buy something, but rather, a fun place to be.

“This market is special,” Kiley said, with something for everyone, regardless of age, style or budget. “It’s a melting pot of what Portland is.”

In addition to the desire to locate downtown, the building on Kennebec Street was put up for sale, which Baldwin said played a big part in the decision to move. Kiley said when the couple first looked at Congress Street locations they couldn’t find anything affordable. But the family that owned Paul’s approached them about taking over the building, and the sale closed in March.

Baldwin and Kiley receive a fee from each of about 50 vendors, all of whom are from Maine, and there is a waiting list. Kiley said the new space is a single floor and is 10,000 square feet, as opposed to the old space, which was about 7,800 square feet spread over three floors. The new digs include a mezzanine, and Kiley said she and Baldwin are talking about hosting events there.

The space has exposed brick walls and hardwood floors. Kiley said the couple worked hard to preserve the integrity of the building.

Baldwin and Kiley said they are looking for items that will quickly turn over, and want as much of the inventory as possible to be vintage or antique. Kiley said older furniture was designed better than most contemporary pieces, because it was built to last.

“We want there to be a lot of new things to see every weekend,” Baldwin said. During opening weekend alone, according to Kiley, there was a 25 percent turnover of inventory.

“It’s amazing how many people in Maine make things,” Kiley said. “Even people with other careers are side-makers.”

Held the weekend of Oct. 6, Baldwin said the grand reopening reception was very warm and “… everything we could have hoped for.”

When the market isn’t open, the pair will be traveling in search of new vendors or items, or will be making “house calls.” Kiley said theirs is a fun job, since they always meet interesting people and vendors.

“There’s always something new you can learn about furniture and different clothing,” she said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Nathaniel Baldwin and Erin Kiley are the owners of the Portland Flea-for-All, which recently moved to 585 Congress St., near Congress Square.

The Portland Flea-for-All has taken over the space formerly occupied by Paul’s Food Center.

The Portland Flea-for-All is open Thursday through Sunday at various times.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.