Popular market leaving to make room for park
Looking to be reunited with your fave bell bottom pants from the 1970s? How about some old-school Converse high-top gym shoes? Anyone ready to break out the phonograph needle and put on some Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass or Peggy Lee record albums? Or perhaps you’re in the market for some upcycled furniture, jewelry or luggage.
Soon, you’ll need look no further than Grossmont Center in La Mesa to fill those retro needs.
The popular San Diego Vintage Flea Market, with its ever-growing cadre of vendors, is on the move. It left its North Park parking lot home behind The Observatory earlier this month in order to move to the La Mesa mall starting Sunday, March 22.
The flea market was originally planned to be held in the Grossmont Center parking lot in-between a fitness center and several restaurants, covering the same footprint where the monthly First Friday Vegan Market is held.
But the city of La Mesa’s plan to charge Grossmont Center about $2,000 for a permit to have the event in the lot led to a decision by Grossmont Director of Marketing and Public Relations Trevor Moore to put sales booths inside the mall. Moore said the plan is to have vendors sell their wares up and down Grossmont Center’s inside corridors, in front of brick-and-mortar businesses.
He said a “makers market” that sets up inside the mall the same way has been very successful as have quarterly animal adoption events that circulate throughout Grossmont Center.
Moore said he didn’t expect any of the mall’s resident stores to be bothered by the monthly Sunday vintage visitors, that there are no directly competing “secondhand” type stores in the center. In fact, some shop owners were looking forward to new customers checking out the mall’s offerings, he said.
And that sounds good to Michelle Enders, who has been running the San Diego Vintage Flea Market since its 2012 beginnings in a small venue at the Heartland Masonic Lodge in El Cajon.
“I think there are so many benefits for going to Grossmont Center,” said Enders, a one-time Helix High School student and Fletcher Hills resident who moved the vintage market to North Park in 2013 when it outgrew those El Cajon roots.
What started out as a handful of vendors grew to 32 in El Cajon and blossomed to 52 when it first started in North Park. Its February event squeezed in more than 100 vendors.
“I feel like Grossmont offers us a bigger location, which we need because we have completely outgrown North Park by leaps and bounds,” Enders said. “They’ve also offered us amenities like giving us security, trash disposal and restrooms. There’s also free parking.”
The market has literally been gaining ground over the years along with a huge surge in popularity. Enders said it draws more than 10,000 customers to its one-Sunday-a-month event in the University Avenue parking lot.
Enders said she has known since 2016 that the move was coming because of a pocket park that has been in the city of San Diego’s plans for several years.
Vendors like April Cromer says she is ready to give the new spot a try.
Cromer owns Lady Cromer Jewelry, a line of hand-cast jewelry, and has been selling her crafts at the market for nearly three years along with her partner Rosalynn Landazuri of Lodestone Collection.
Cromer said she and Landazuri believe the change to new digs in La Mesa actually may be a boon for some of the market’s customers.
“We love the San Diego Vintage Flea Market,” Cromer said. “It is a great community of awesome people, shoppers and vendors alike. We’re sad to lose our current location because it is so convenient and we get a lot of foot traffic. But just from talking with people about the move we found out that a lot of our customers live in La Mesa.
“I think if the North Park crowd is willing to travel a little bit like the La Mesa crowd has been doing for so long, it will be a great show. And hopefully our customer base will expand even more at the new location. All in all, we hope that the move to La Mesa will help make the flea market even bigger and better that it already is.”
Moore said the vintage market’s move is helping herald Grossmont Center’s coming 60th anniversary next year. He said the mall already has San Diego County buzzing about the First Friday Vegan event and annual animal adoption events inside the mall.
“People come from all over California, even Arizona, to shop at this market,” Moore said. “A lot of the trend now is in vintage clothing, with artisans and collections by people who do really know what’s in style. I’m happy we’ll have another market that will keep up with changing trends of what people are getting into in 2020.”