SHOP TALK – January 2015
By Veronique McAree l Photography by Amanda Kowalski
A visit to Portland Flea-for-All, a treasure trove of cool finds
As I peruse the vendors’ stalls in a lofty brick building in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood, I know something very cool is afoot.
This is the Portland Flea-for-All, a hybrid somewhere between a Maine estate auction, an old-fashioned yard sale, and Etsy, the online mecca for all things handmade.
Each weekend, Flea-for-All showcases 50 vendors from a rotating cast. The first floor is neatly divided into spaces for individual vendors with their hodgepodge of crafts and vintage goods, while the second floor houses furniture, glassware, art, bikes, you name it, artfully curated and displayed.
Just as eclectic as the cast of vendors and visitors, the finds range from vintage frocks to all manner of beads and baubles to hand- printed tees to candles. Among the collections, I spy items spanning the decades—stuffed chairs from the ’30s, ’50s side tables, ’60s costume jewelry, and ’70s vinyl.
The market came to fruition just two and a half years ago, thanks to the spirited efforts of Erin Kiley and Nathaniel Baldwin. The couple, transplants from Los Angeles, fell in love with Portland for its youthful energy and creative culture. After considering other business ideas, they agreed Portland was ripe for a market that would serve as a centralized source of well-curated crafts and vintage pieces at great prices, supporting acts of creativity and restoration in the community.
“There are plenty of craft and vintage fairs across New England, as well as loads of online auction sites, but local crafters have few opportunities to get their work into the public eye,” said Kiley. “Flea- for-All lets these smaller brands benefit from the low costs and high volumes of a shared space.”
Kiley and Baldwin also take to the road to source goods from local auctions and antiques fairs, enriching their knowledge of all things vintage and getting to know the dealers and collectors around the state.
Flea-for-All is not only a treasure trove of cool finds. It’s also evolved into a great weekend cultural attraction, with its regular customers as much a part of the atmosphere as the finds. Capitalizing on the social vibe, Kiley and Baldwin have introduced Flea Bites, a food truck festival showcasing some of Portland’s newest food trucks, music, and a little night shopping in between bites of homemade goodness.
Whatever you are looking for—a treasure or a bite to eat and some really good people-watching—you’ll probably find it at Flea- for-All. If not, you’ll have fun searching. You might get bitten by the collecting bug and meet a few friends in the process.