Melrose Trading Post has been around for quite a while, but recently has undergone a change in ownership and changed up its marketplace a little. The flea-market-meets-craft-show takes place ever Sunday at Fairfax High School at the corner of Melrose and Fairfax in LA. Academy of Handmade friend Jessica Rives makes vintage-esque feminine lingerie recently set up shot there one Sunday. We asked her about her experience.
Q: So for background, what is that you make and tell us a little about your business.
Mansfield is my indie company’s name where I design and make comfy art deco inspired lingerie. I also make accessories like bows and legwarmers, from the lingerie scraps and other repurposed fabrics.
Q: How did you get involved in the Melrose Trading Post and why did you decide to do it?
A: I’ve known about Melrose Trading Post for about 15 years. My mom and I sold perfumes there for awhile back in the 90s. Since Fairfax High School, where the flea market is held, is near my home, I figured why not give it a try? But honestly, I decided to sell my products there now because I’m going through craft show withdrawal. The major shows earlier in the summer were so fun! I really delight in talking to customers and other vendors and setting up my little home to sell from for the day.
Q: What was the day like? The setup? Heat? Customers?
A: The Sunday I was there, was HOT! It was a challenge to stay upbeat and motivated, in the heat with slow sales. I learned if I am uncomfortable under my shaded tent, the customers walking in the sun must feel exhausted! So, I am not discouraged from my first day of sales there.
Checking in and setting up in the morning was very easy and fast. When I reserved my spot, a lot of information was provided to me. I knew exactly where to go. The personnel checking in vehicles were super efficient, it seemed they were born to do this.
One thing I did notice is some people who go to the Melrose Trading Post go there to hang out. I saw groups of people without shopping bags not really looking around, but perhaps this behavior could have come from the heat.
Q: They seem to be more of a traditional flea market... were there other makers there?
A: There were other makers! There was an eclectic collection of us. One of my neighbors makes fairy jewelry. I saw crystal infused oils, woven handbags, art prints, furniture, bamboo phone cases, but yes the majority of the market is made up of traditional flea market vendors geared towards collectibles and furniture.
Q: Who would you recommend this market for and who is NOT for?
A: There are literally tons of different kinds of people and merchandise at Melrose Trading Post, it’s worth giving it a try. I spoke to some diverse makers, and they have been selling there for over a year. Something good is happening for them there if they keep going back. But, I think jewelry seems to have a longer wait time to get a spot, but that shouldn’t be a discouragement! No one does what you do like you do!
Q: If people do this show, what things should they be prepared for? We've heard that the spaces are first-come, first serve... true? Are there turf wars?
A: The info booth at Melrose Trading Post is a good resource. They answered my questions and you can also reserve spaces for the month. That may be an approachable way to start as well as the online application.
I remember when my mom and I sold there, we had the same spot every week, and I’m sure that is still possible. It may just take a few tries before you find your home because the spot may already be reserved by someone else for the following Sundays. I’m still unclear how this works since I don’t have a permanent spot...yet.
As far as turf-wars, they may exist, but luckily I didn’t encounter anything close to that. I found the people there to be good-humored and sweet.
Q: What's the application process like? The wait list situation? Cost vs. benefit?
A: Newbies to Melrose Trading Post, I think should be flexible in their schedule. I applied online with their Opportunity List application. This allows vendors to be considered to fill any empty spots on the second Sunday of every month. They offer this opportunity because some permanent vendors sell at the Rose Bowl on those days instead. Some newbie vendors said they waited months to get in, while others received a reply within a few days of submitting their application. I’m sure this is due to their merchandise.
The booth fees aren’t scary. They start at $60 for a 10x10, and I like the central location because it attracts many tourists, which usually gives the vendors a new crowd of customers. I heard more foreign languages than English among customers. I also like that this flea market has been around for a long time. Its been advertised for over a decade already throughout the city.
Q: Anything else?
A: I want to repeat that flexibility and patience is useful for these kind of traditional flea markets. Be flexible: If an opportunity arrises to try a new experience - Take it! Be patient: If your first try isn’t what you expected, try a couple more times to see if it gets better. This happened more often than not to most vendors I chatted with. After a few Sundays, the sales were worth staying for.
Q: Where can people find your stuff?
A: I sell my lingerie and up-cycled accessories on Etsy at mansfieldlingerie.etsy.com as well as craft shows throughout the year. Hopefully, I’ll sell most Sundays at Melrose Trading Post too!