OPEN-AIR FLEA MARKET PROVIDES PUBLIC ACCESS TO PRIVATE VENDORS
By Lucas Wiggins
Vintage, antique and art connoisseurs perused an array of antiquities exhibited for sale at Los Angeles Pierce College over the weekend.
Convening every fourth Sunday, Topanga Vintage Market is the San Fernando Valley’s only open-air flea market, according to Lori Rotblatt, co-founder of the venture.
“About four years ago I was looking around the valley and I was noticing no flea market,” Rotblatt said. “The closest flea market for anybody that loved vintage was either in Pasadena or Ventura.”
“The valley was missing a vibrant, open-air flea market and I live here so I came up with this idea to start one,” Rotblatt said. “We saw a void in the market and we decided to fill it.”
Vintage market co-founder Patrice Curedale said great success in the infancy of the organization rapidly outpaced the capacity of their original location in the parking lot of a west valley shopping mall.
“We started at the Westfield Promenade Mall on Topanga Canyon Blvd,” Curedale said. “We outgrew that pretty quickly so we thought we would approach the college and maybe they would be open to it, and they said yes.”
Collectors hunting vintage artisan items to add to their coffers travel to Pierce College from all corners of Los Angeles every fourth Sunday in anticipation of browsing through the more than 100 vendors in attendance.
“On average we have about 160 vendors, and about 2600 customers every month.” Curedale said.
Strong customer turnout for the event is a trend that varies with shifting weather patterns, according to Curedale.
“When it’s a really beautiful day we will sometimes see over 3000 people, and when it’s a really hot day sometimes we’ll see only 2000.” Curedale said.
Fostering healthy business environments which function more like family oriented communities is one of the many ambitions the Vintage Market strives to integrate into its operations.
“We wanted to build this business like a community,” said Rotblatt. “We wanted to really respect the vendors because they are the ones who make this market, without the vendors there is no market.” Rotblatt said.
In addition to nurturing the harmonization of business and community, Curedale and Rotblatt further enforce their dedication to public service by donating vendor booths to non-profit organizations, and academic clubs on campus.
“We often give a free space to local charities and nonprofits, and we can do the same thing for student clubs.” Rotblatt said.
“We also really want to encourage the student body to think of this as an opportunity to reach out to the public, and for any clubs that have any projects that they are doing to reach out as well.” Curedale said.
Food and drink concessions are available for sale at any one of the food trucks that border the market.
Tommy Marudi, owner of the 2015 award winning food truck “The Middle Feast,” from the Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race,” is participating as a vendor for his sixth time with Topanga Vintage Market.
“We’re here today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., feeding customers our number one dish, Chicken Shawarma.” Marudi said.
The Topanga Vintage Market is open for business rain or shine from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every fourth Sunday of the month. Free parking is provided, and admission is $3 per adult. Kids under 12 are free.