City Flea introduces Cincinnati to urban flea market culture

While living in New York, Cincinnati natives, Nick and Lindsay Dewald enjoyed spending the better part of their Saturdays at Brooklyn Flea, an urban flea market. According to Nick, since it was within walking distance, it was just “something you did in the neighborhood,” and whatever you needed to do—“eat, buy a gift, card, something for the house, or get a cup of coffee”—you could do it at Brooklyn Flea.

When they returned to Cincinnati eight months ago, the couple noticed a cultural boom happening among the city’s creative class. Inspired, Nick and Lindsay started The City Flea to expose the city to an urban flea market culture.

“Six years ago, it didn’t seem like [Cincinnati] was thriving the way it is now,” says Lindsay, who resides in Prospect Hill. “When we came back, we said, ‘We’ve got to bring that flea market culture to Cincinnati because there are definitely vendors and patrons who will embrace us.’”

At City Flea, patrons can eat a meal from one of the many food vendors in attendance, or peruse through ceramic goods, handmade furniture, jewelry, vintage clothing and other merchandise from local entrepreneurs and artisans.

City Flea’s location at Vine Street and Central Parkway

“We want people to know it could be a well thought out, well curated sort of market that showcases local artists and collectors,” says Lindsay. “There’s not going to be much rummaging through to get to the good stuff. The good stuff, you’re gonna see as soon as you walk in.”

This Saturday, June 4, City Flea will be located in the parking lot in front of the Cincinnatus mural at Vine Street and Central Parkway [map]. “We like that it’s on the border of Central Parkway and downtown—and people coming from outside of the city, I think, will be more comfortable with the fact that it is downtown…of course, we want to break that stereotype that Over-the-Rhine is scary, so we thought this would be a good location to do that,” says Lindsay.

The neighborhood feel of Brooklyn Flea is what Nick says he and his wife were hoping to recreate for the people that live in the community. “We’re hoping that for the people that live in the area, it can be a part of their weekend,” says Nick, mentioning that it could be a destination stop on the way to brunch or Findlay Market. He also hopes that the monthly event (which will return July 9, August 6 and September 3) will eventually happen every weekend.

Jessica Rilling, owner of bakery, Jessicakes, says she looks forward to City Flea’s melting pot of people, ideas, and goods. “As a designer, self-taught baker, business owner, and a former urban planning student, I felt like the goals of the market were something I could really stand behind,” says Rilling. “It just seemed natural to get involved with bringing that here to Cincinnati.”

Among City Flea’s list of sponsors are downtown and Over-the-Rhine businesses Arnold’s Bar and Grill, A-Line Magazine, Atomic Number 10, Yelp! Cincinnati, Cincinnati Fringe Fest, The Famous Neon’s Unplugged, Know Theatre, Architreks, Park & Vine and The Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati.

Accessible to several Metro bus routes, The City Flea is open from 11am to 5pm in the Cincinnatus mural parking lot at Vine Street and Central Parkway, and is free. No alcohol or outside food is permitted. For more information on parking and directions, visit City Flea’s website or find them on Facebook.

  • Matthew W. Hall

    Another great development. But please play down the NYC connection. This only gives the enemies of downtown a target to attack. Make it sound distinctly local, even though it isn’t, and it will be much more popular.

  • leif

    What’s wrong with the NYC connection? I love it when people from other cities move into Cincinnati and want to engage in the city in a new way. Haters are gonna hate. You just have to smile and let them move further and further out.

  • Schmiez

    How is it not “distinctly local”?

  • Matthew Hall

    Leif may love outsiders, but many cincinnatians i’ve met instinctively resent, distrust, and dismiss them and their ideas. The local’s ideas about what is uniquely local are silly and romantic but they do motivate many locals in my experience. Talk of how we are ‘copying’ an established model from elsewhere is not the way to handle these objections. To ‘pretend’ that something is ‘so cincinnati’ even when it isn’t is the way to get many more to participate in something new here. Just some friendly advice that i’ve learned the hard way in my five years in cincy.

  • Mil

    Just want to point out, Nick and Lindsay grew up in Cincinnati. The first sentence states they are natives, they just lived in other cities for awhile.

  • Joe

    The idea of bringing a moderate to high-end flea market is really an excellent idea and could catch adding to the sense of place in OTR and utilizing the area’s historical significance. My Grandfather has been buying antiques at auctions and yard sales for the last 15 years and sets up at a number of the larger flea markets in the Midwest and has been very successful as a small business man supplementing his social security income. If done correctly flea markets can bring collectors and history lovers from a several state radius that have a lot of disposable income. For example the Tiffin Flea Market, held every month during the summer at the Seneca County Fairgrounds attracts 200-500 dealers/vendors and usually attracts upwards of 10,000 visitors over a weekend. This flea market is middle class having some higher priced antiques and collectibles but a lot of the more common stuff that people can use to decorate their homes. The big thing is that there is free admission which attracts the critical mass that brings in dozens of food vendors, produce stands, live entertainment, and hundreds of dealers selling various antiques, household goods, and crafts.

    But that said it is important to keep out the junk dealers and the other undesirable dealers such as those found at Caersar’s Creek and other establishments such as Traders World. Many of these dealers are selling closeout items (scratch and dent food products, beauty supplies, and other stuff that a store like Big Lots would sell) obtained from stores or are selling junk and bringing down the image of the area.

    In the end a flea market could encourage vendors to buy permenant spaces in the neighborhood and could complement Findlay Market very well.

  • Reginald

    Let’s not everybody forget that this is downtown too. Another neighborhood that is on the come up and full of creative people.

  • paul

    “…who resides in Prospect Place.” Also known as Prospect Hill. Corrected so we all understand that they are contributing to their ‘hood (close enough).

  • The Central Parkway location really is perfect – straddling the edge of Downtown and OTR. I think that Nick and Lindsay are going to/will be specific to make sure their vendors are the right kind – eclectic, handmade, different. No garage sale/made from China stuff here.

    I’m so excited for Saturday!

  • Aaron Watkins

    New York City is an amazing city and one of the most influential cities in the world. But seriously, anyone who would get upset at anything that uses NYC as an example, especially in this sense, should really take a look at how successful New York actually is. Another example of something New York inspired in Cincy was the subway system, imagine if it had been completed!

  • mark rudemiller

    We went and had a great time.Stopped bt after our weekly visit to Findlay.Nick and Lindsay did and a great job.The energy was palpable and all seemed to be having fine.Proud to be a Cincinnatian.