When Trash Becomes Treasure: A Closer Look at Flagstaff’s Urban Flea Market | To beat


The misfortune of some is the happiness of others. At least, that’s what they say.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans generated 12.2 million tons of furniture waste in 2017, about 80% of which went to landfill. The EPA also reported that in 2018, 17 million tons of textile waste ended up in landfills. Due to this accumulation of waste, alternative methods of reusing furniture and clothing have proliferated. Thrift stores are growing in popularity according to the 2021 Resale Report, which indicates that more customers are more open to shopping at thrift stores than ever in recent years. While thrift stores are one way to keep goods from ending up in the landfill, another popular way is to shop at flea markets like Flagstaff Urban Flea Market.

While flea markets are often a combination of new and old, the Flagstaff Urban Flea Market actively recruits vendors who specifically sell second-hand goods like books, antiques, records, vintage clothing and used tools, according to co-director, Dapper Dre.

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“We tried to become a platform for new and growing businesses or for dealers of antiques, upcycled products, remanufactured products or small handicrafts,” said Dr. “That has always been our mission from the start. We did more and tried to provide a pop-up outdoor market feel. It’s always a good equation, good weather, kiosks set up in the sun and most people understand what’s going to happen.

Dre said flea markets like Flagstaff Urban showcase antiques and resale items in ways they wouldn’t in a store. In the world of the pop-up market, there is a kind of limited time value that comes with every item.

“When [resale items or antiques] aren’t in antique stores or thrift stores, and they’re highlighted in this market once a month, it makes people feel even more like “I should buy this now” or “save her life” or whatever,” said Dre. “I think this once-a-month pop-up market event gives these items extra meaning. The client has a connection with it.

When it comes to sustainability, Dre said there’s a balance between new and reused items for sale. While a greater focus on resale thrift finds is a great sustainable option, promoting local small businesses is actually in the same vein. Instead of selling mass-produced retail items, the vendors who sell at Flagstaff Urban Flea primarily manufacture one-off pieces. There is no overstock or overflow in a bespoke or one-of-a-kind business, thus limiting waste.

“We do a lot of outreach to local growers and smaller-scale dealers and resellers, and try to make sure that they’re the ones who engage with our market as much as possible,” said Dre. “We try to get these one-of-a-kind makers, and a lot of the vintage, upcycled, and resale things are, too. It’s not like there’s a small, medium, and large behind. It’s the one we have, and if you like it, it’s the only one they have. It’s a little more organized because of the offer.

Shopping small is not only good for the environment, but it also benefits the Flagstaff community as a whole. Dre said the flea markets and farmers markets hosted by Flagstaff Community Markets nurture a sense of belonging and togetherness in the city.

“Do your best to engage with your local markets,” said Dr. “It’s not just a place to buy goods, buy what you want and buy food, but they also help grow the community and make it a place to thrive. It’s good for everyone in Flagstaff. These markets build community in a way that it’s impossible to travel downtown from one retail store to another, which is fun and good. No matter what we sell, we do our best to move the community forward.

If you go… The Flagstaff Urban Flea Market is held every second Saturday of the month until October 10, 2021, in the Flagstaff City Hall parking lot (211 W. Aspen) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. .


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