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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Embracing the Local Makers Movement at the Old Town Flea Market

Aug 25, 2015 10:40PM ● By Brandi Barnett

Welcome to Clovis Local Treasures

September 2015
By Jen May Pastores

“There’s a whole new generation of buyers,” says Karen Chisum, founder of The Old Town Flea Market in Old Town Clovis. Collaborating alongside her is co-founder Cherish Stockdale, who adds to the topic of vintage culture: “I think the younger generation appreciates having a part in finding something that’s one of a kind.”
This hunt for the perfect blend of new and old comes in classic hues found in the vintage spectrum: repurposed furniture, crafted original goods, retro clothing, handmade jewelry and antiques. It’s finding yourself in a charming marketplace where you may come across neighbors who are artisans.
“We’re all about being local. There is so much talent in the valley that we wanted to showcase it,” says Chisum. “You might happen to see something and think how happy it makes you feel. It doesn’t even have to serve any other purpose that that.”
Cost consciousness has inspired creativity when it comes to home decor, she says. “They’ve found that some old pieces could be used for new things,” Chisum says. “They’re looking at something and liking they way it looks, not necessarily for the collector’s value. In my mind, traditional antiquers are buying ornately carved furniture that’s 100 years old in pristine condition worth $5,000. It’s not about the collection like it used to be.”
A popular phrase, “Makers Gonna Make,” is evidence there are admirers embracing the maker movement. Not only are folks encouraged to shop local, but they may be inspired to make their own originals and are willing to try making things themselves.
“Our culture now is a little bit more entrepreneurial, where people start out working out of their house. They do Etsy sales and their own website sales. They create a business for themselves doing what they love. I think this is the generation that’s more willing to do that,” says Stockdale. “A lot of local artists have really been able to grow their business through the flea market, so that’s been fun, too.”
Vendor Sarah Young started out selling string art on a small table at the first Old Town Flea Market. Her Originals products took off, and during the last event, she sold out of everything before the end of the day. “Part of our commitment of doing the flea market is to make sure that our vendors are successful,” says Chisum. “A lot of the vendors have Instagram or Facebook accounts. They’ll post up items they’ll have at the market to get the buzz going, so buyers have specific ideas of what they want to get before they even get into the door,” adds Stockdale.
The last flea market event had more than 5,000 attendees. For the next one, happening the first weekend of November, they’ll have around 70 vendors, as well as gourmet food trucks. A shopping guide listing the participating vendors is online, where tickets can also be purchased or picked up at the Foundry Collective store.
Before the flea market first started three years ago at the Rodeo Grounds in Clovis, the two met with customers out of their quaint store known then as Vintage on Fourth. It quickly outgrew the space and is today The Foundry Collective on Fifth Street. The store houses product lines from creatives on the Foundry team, as well as artists who participate at the flea market. Sometimes local artists teach craft classes, where anyone can learn the basics of string art, floral arrangements or calligraphy. “Who knows what the future holds? We’re having fun for now,” says Stockdale.
And they’re grateful for the support of people who shop local. “I think that’s sustained the Foundry and has helped the Old Town Flea Market. Our local community in the Central Valley has embraced our idea and we’re really thankful they’ve jumped on board with us and come along for the ride. It makes a huge difference to shop local when you can. If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t be here,” says Chisum.