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Davis, California

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Thrifting and vintage shopping during COVID-19

From antique fairs, vintage markets and flea markets, three organizations describe their practices during the pandemic

By FARRAH BALLOU — features@aggie.org

With 80s, 90s and early 2000s fashion trends reemerging in popular culture, social media posts and videos have begun publicizing the process and experience of finding unique items in thrift stores and markets. 

Marolyn Rose, the owner and operator of the Sacramento Antique Faire, noted that though secondhand goods have always been popular, she has seen an uptick in popularity which she attributed to online platforms and their influences. 

“I can’t believe how popular 80s and 90s clothing are, and we have a huge group of young people that are social media driven,” Rose said. 

Sacramento Antique Faire

A tradition for years, this fair is located in Sacramento and brings dozens of vendors together for its monthly showing of antiques that are at least 20 years old. From textiles to clothes and garden decor, Rose described how the fair sells a diverse range of goods that originate from all over the globe. 

For Rose, this event is especially important due to the dedication that she consistently sees from the vendors. 

“What makes it the most special are the vendors,” Rose said. “They are very hardworking people. I remember as a child a certain work ethic that I saw all around me, and these people just work incredibly hard.”

She noted that vendors are constantly traveling, shopping for these goods and setting up early on the mornings of the fair. 

Rose further emphasized that the event provides an alternative place for goods to be sold instead of going to landfills, while also allowing customers to have access to a large quantity of handmade goods. 

In addition to simply selling objects, Rose said that she has many emotions and memories tied to the experience. 

“It’s just nostalgic because everyone that comes to the fair will see something that they remember from their childhood and they’ll say, ‘Oh my grandmother had that,’ or, ‘My mom had that,’” Rose said. 

She even recalled a special time where a man coincidentally found a University of Southern California (USC) trophy that honored one of his father’s accomplishments when he attended the university. 

Rose stated that the Faire offers the unique opportunity to gain a glimpse into the past and recall moments that may have been present in one’s life. 

In terms of COVID-19, the fair was closed for the second half of 2020 but recently reopened with shifts into the new tiers. Rose noted that the fair has adopted COVID-19 protocols by enforcing social distancing rules, removing eating tables and following the mask mandate. 

Rose encouraged everyone to attend because of the fair’s unique objects and welcoming vendors. 

“Anyone considering coming, whether they like old stuff or not, they should just for the experience,” Rose said. “It’s kind of like going to a museum.”

Folsom Boulevard Flea Market

Suzanna Berger, the owner of the Folsom Boulevard Flea Market, described this event as a diverse market that has been active for over 50 years. She mentioned that the market does sell new and used clothes, used books and antique items. Even pallets of Amazon items and Costco returns can be found at the market. The market encompasses a large range of items such as makeup, plants and household goods. Berger also noted a nostalgic feeling that emanates from the market where many unique products are sold. 

“You can find just about anything at Folsom Blvd Flea Market,” Berger said via email. 

The market is open every Saturday and Sunday, rain or shine and is set up in four barns with each barn containing 10 to 15 unique stores. Here, the vendors set up shop where popular items like produce, goods and tools are sold.

“I personally love looking at what the daily vendors bring in to sell as it is like going to several garage sales in one place,” Berger said via email. “You never know what you will find.”

To maintain safety during COVID-19, Berger explained that vendors and customers are required to wear masks, there are limited tables at the food court which are spaced six feet apart and the market is continuously cleaned. 

Ultimately, she emphasized that the variety of unique objects present makes the market a worthwhile visit. 

“There is great food, necessities and just all around good stuff,” Berger said via email. 

Davis Craft and Vintage Market

Though the Davis Craft and Vintage Market was also heavily impacted due to COVID-19, Debora Ariola, the director of the market, said that the event’s gradual reopening process began with the holiday season of 2020. 

Ariola described how the market carries a vast assortment of goods from vintage to handmade crafts. In the vintage realm, she described a diverse selection of jewelry, kitchen goods and clothes that are available to customers. There is also a large variety of crafts ranging from pottery, graphic art and knitted products. 

Her booth, “Recollections,” is influenced by the feeling of nostalgia and connection that is incited when people see past objects that their family may have owned.

“When people come to my table and see something that their mother had or their grandfather had and they connect with it emotionally, that’s what I get out of it,” Ariola said. “It’s almost like I’m putting things out there for people to rediscover or have a connection to.”

She also remembered a notable moment where she was selling an Army Aircorp World War II sweetheart locket that contained a picture with an officer and his sweetheart inside. 

“You see that and you can’t help but just want to connect to that emotion or the sweetness of that,” Ariola stated. 

The locket was later purchased by a U.S. history teacher who believed that it would be applicable to his history discussions. 

As the market reopens, Ariola described the safety precautions they are undertaking to keep customers and vendors safe. They are practicing social distancing with spaced vendors, hand sanitizer bottles on the tables and posted signs to ensure mask wearing. When the market reopened during the holidays, the usual presence of live music was not possible due to county mandates. Now, Ariola looks forward to the fact that they can reintroduce live music to the market. 

With the easing of restrictions, Ariola encouraged people to visit the market as a way to reconnect with life. 

“We all need to get out,” Ariola said. “It has become too easy for folks and we readapted to our caves a little bit too well sometimes. We need to get out and this is a way to brighten your day and reconnect to society.”

Written by: Farrah Ballou — features@theaggie.org


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