Portland flea market hopes to attract collectors, curators

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PORTLAND — Organizers hope a flea market opening next month will become a mecca for bargain-hunters, vintage enthusiasts and art collectors alike.

Tapping into the city’s still-growing creative community and buy-local philosophy, the organizers of the Portland Flea-For-All hope to create a meeting place for arts enthusiasts the way the Public Market House has for foodies, co-owner Nathaniel Baldwin said.

The flea market, a project more than two years in the making for Baldwin and Erin Kiley, his business partner and fiancee, will host a rotating cast of vendors, most of them peddling original arts and crafts or vintage items curated by the dealers.

“The idea is you come in on a Saturday and you come in on a Sunday and it’ll be a different thing,” Kiley said.

Baldwin said that shoppers will find something interesting at the Flea-For-All “regardless of age, style, or budget,” and that the vendors will be carefully vetted.

“We want a diversity and quality here every week,” Kiley said. “There’s not going to be any junk. … Portland has an amazing community of collectors and curators of quality things.”

The market will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning April 14 at 125 Kennebec St. in Bayside.

For a fee, vendors will be able to rent space for anywhere from six days to six months. Baldwin and Kiley hope to have about 50 vendors filling two floors of the former Asia West showroom.

The pair said they have already lined up dealers of vintage furniture and antique books, creators of hand-made jewelry, and painters and photographers. Over time, they hope to expand to fill the building’s third floor.

The response from artists and flea-marketers alike has been strong, Kiley said. The most common response they’ve heard to their idea has been “why doesn’t that exist already?” she said.

Baldwin and Kiley said finding the right space was one of the most difficult challenges – they wanted a place on the peninsula that balanced size, cost, and the welcoming-yet-imaginative aesthetic they envisioned.

The building they wound up with is nearly a century old and has been recently renovated, but its exposed brick walls and bare-wood beams lend it an industrial air, while large windows keep it bright.

The space has a lot of character, which is important to for attracting vendors and shoppers willing to make a day of their trip rather than a quick stop, Kiley said.

“It’s the kind of place we would shop at,” Baldwin added.

For hand-crafted jeweler Judy Babin, of South Portland, the market is an answer to her own retail-site woes.

Babin said her studio is too small to sell her one-of-a-kind rings and chains. “If I could have my own retail space, I would,” she said. “But (the flea market) is the next best thing.”

She sells her work from a handful of stores and galleries in Maine and New England, and sometimes travels to craft shows. But between the travel time, keeping her kids occupied, and paying the high table fees, the shows can be a challenge, she said.

Babin said she plans to set up shop at the flea market on Sunday of the first weekend, and about once a month for six months thereafter. She expects that the market’s location near Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Bayside Bowl will attract lots of customers, and that she will need the weeks in between appearances to create new jewelry, which she sells for $20 to $500.

“To have something like this in my backyard is awesome,” she said.

Andrew Cullen can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or acullen@theforecaster.net. Follow Andrew on Twitter: @ACullenFore.

Sidebar Elements


Erin Kiley, left, and her fiance, Nathaniel Baldwin, are set to open the Portland Flea-for-All, a vintage and arts-and-crafts flea market at the former Asia West showroom building, 125 Kennebec St., Portland, on April 14. They hope it will provide a place for members of Portland’s artistic community to gather and sell their products to customers.

The Portland Flea-for-All is set to open in the former Asia West showroom building at 125 Kennebec St. on April 14.

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