Last Sunday’s Junction Flea market featured a typical flea-market hodgepodge—records, old magazines, 1960s glassware. It also offered a tintype portrait studio, a fortune teller housed in a vintage Airstream trailer, “artisan” dumplings, and chrysanthemum-infused iced tea. By 10:30 a.m., one food stand had already sold out of its smoked-trout frittata.
“The vendor selection is definitely curated,” said co-founder Micah Lenahan, the owner of Russet & Empire, an upscale antique and gift store that opened last year. She likened the atmosphere at the market to “the CNE, without the screaming teenagers.”
Although the monthly Flea, launched in June, is listed on the Junction Business Improvement Area’s billboard at the neighbourhood’s main intersection, Dundas and Keele, the event isn’t sponsored by the association. Nor was it conceived by them; instead, it was entirely initiated by a handful of newer business owners. BIA chair Jim Roche, whose association has around 200 members, said that some older members have been reticent to try out new ideas, like the Flea. “When we’re approached with a new idea, we might have a member say we tried that 10 years ago and it didn’t work.” But timing and circumstance is everything, added Roche. “It could work the next time.”
Most of the younger business owners (who are also association members) said they appreciate the BIA’s efforts: “It’s a thankless job with lots of expectations,” said Flea co-founder Paul Mercer, owner of Smash, an antique and design store, and a gallery specializing in salvaged antiques. But for the Junction Flea, he saw no need to approach the BIA for subsidies. “We got the first one mobilized fairly quickly and on a shoe-string budget.”
Another independently run event, the Junction Design Crawl, will take place on Aug. 24.
Roche stressed that any divide between old and new businesses is temporary. “The neighbourhood is a very creative one,” he said. “It’s known for its art, so we’re about fostering an environment in which all of these events can co-exist.”