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New flea market is a big hit
There was a line at the cash register Sunday at the Uptown Mercantile & Marketplace.
Outside about 30 vendors were set up and selling their wares. Tables were filled with market-goers snacking on pizza and salad, tacos and delectable cupcakes.
It was the first Sunday community flea market in downtown Bremerton and business was booming.
“I’m just thrilled,” said Amber Breske, owner of the Uptown Mercantile & Marketplace. “I’m totally excited.”
It was Breske’s idea to start the market. She said it came to her when she first went to look at the location at 816 Pacific Ave.
“We’ve had a steady crowd since we opened at 10 a.m.,” she said, as she helped a friend cook miniature pizzas on a hot grill. “I think this really speaks volumes about how Bremerton needs something like this.”
A former automobile dealership, the business is open daily, while the 4,000 square-foot empty service bay next door will be used on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the flea market. Breske said about half of the vendors who took part Sunday plan to be there every week, while the other half will return when they can, opening up spaces for new vendors every week.
“We want to keep it changing all the time so that there’s something new to see every week,” she said.
Most of the vendors on Sunday were local, but a few traveled from Seattle to show their collections. Among the items Sunday were hand-knitted bags, handmade soaps and candles, some shabby chic furnishings and garden art. There was even live music provided by a local band, Milissa and the Mixers.
Sandy Robbins was showing her knitted bags and yarn art.
“I live just down the street,” Robbins said. “I’ve been showing my stuff at flea markets since 2009 and I’m so glad to have something like this close to home.”
Robbins said she’s been wanting a flea market close to home and plans to split her weekends between this one in Bremerton and a flea market in Fremont.
“I’m a Fremont transplant,” she said. “I love that this is a locally-inspired event and that it’s brought out the local community.”
She was showing her most popular item Sunday, hand knit felted bags with recycled leather belts used as the purse strap.
She’s studied wool yarns and recently bought a spinning wheel. She plans to bring it to the flea market and spin on some Sundays.
“I just love knitting,” she said. “I knit anywhere, on my breaks at work and even at red lights,” she joked.
Another vendor, Pam Harned, came to show her shabby chic furniture and “anything pink,” she said.
“I’m from here,” she said. “I was Miss Kitsap 1978. I love that I can come here and support the local community that I grew up in.”
As a medical device salesperson by day, she collects china, vintage dresses, lace items, art and furnishings, most of which are pink. She sets up her booth at various flea markets and enjoys just talking to people.
“I’m a mom with three sons,” she said. “I guess this is the way I get my pink out.”
She figures that with travel time and set up time, she’s making about $3 an hour.
“It’s not for the money,” she said. “It’s just for the fun of it.”
Bremerton resident Kay Zolman saw an ad for the flea market and decided to check it out on Sunday.
“I thought I’d look and see what it’s all about,” she said as she noted that the flea market is all under one roof and could be fun in any weather.
“I’m thinking about bringing out some of my stuff to sell one of these weeks,” she said. “There’s a good turnout.”
Kim Thompson was working as fast as she could to keep up with the demand for her pizza and salads on Sunday. She owns Company & Friends Catering.
“I’m friends with Amber and when she asked me to come out today I had to, to support my friend,” she said. “It’s been so busy, I had to recruit Amber to help me.”
Breske said Monday that they ran out of pizzas and the taco truck ran out of rice and beans.
“We had hundreds of people come through during the day,” she said. “It was very busy from 10 to 2 and then after that we still had a crowd.”
Breske has been in the flea market business for years. She owned the Flea Market Chics Shop in a space near Evergreen Rotary Park, and then moved her shop to Manette, opening the Manette Mercantile last year.
After her lease was not renewed, she found 816 Pacific, which most recently was the Pied Piper’s Emporium.
Much of what fills her shop are goods from local vendors including vintage wares, repurposed furniture, items with beach and sea theme, old hardware and even a collection of cowboy boots. Her shop is open everyday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To find out about being a part of the Sunday flea markets, call 360-801-0361, or stop by the Uptown Mercantile.