Dublin Flea Market continues to thrive

The Flea Market survived the economic crash and is thriving, reports Patrick McGannon.

The Dublin Flea market (DFM), founded in 2008, has not only survived one of the most serious recessions in the history of this country but has prospered and expanded in the past eight years.

Located on Newmarket Square, in the south inner city, the market first opened to the public in November 2008. From humble beginnings in a rented lock-up, with 15 traders selling mainly second-hand clothing items, the market has now grown to its maximum capacity of 70 stalls. It now occupies two large warehouses on the square, in addition to having outdoor street vendors.

The DFM operates on the last Sunday of every month between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. It was the brainchild of three young friends who had a mutual interest in casual trading and managing coffee shops.

As founder member and current director Sharon Greene explained: “I have always been addicted to flea markets and spent a number of years travelling around Europe, working in bazaars and markets. My co-founders, Luca Delfonso and Ashling Rodgerson, managed the café at the Dublin Food Cooperative warehouse, here in the square. As the warehouse was empty and available every weekend, we decided to rent the space and set up the market.”       

“As the recession deepened, there was an increased demand for stall space from people who were selling literally everything they owned prior to emigrating”  

The financial downturn had just started to take hold in Ireland. Many residents were being made redundant or planning to emigrate.

“Our customers in the early years were mainly those who were, perhaps, tired or no longer in a position to pay top prices for new brand labels, and were prepared to browse through the vintage and retro clothing stalls. As the recession deepened, there was an increased demand for stall space from people who were selling literally everything they owned prior to emigrating.”      

Today, the demand for stall rental far outweighs the supply available. There are 20 permanent traders, many of them dating back to the opening of the market. The remaining slots are allocated monthly by the management team.

“The online bidding process closes on the 10th of every month. Normally we receive up to 150 applications. The committee decides on the successful applicants, ensuring a balanced variety of outlets for our customers. We are a non-profit organisation, and charge €40 per stall, to cover our rental costs,” said Ms Greene.

The market offers a wide variety of vintage clothing, jewellery and accessories. It also features restored furniture and soft furnishings. There are also large collections of books, posters, vinyl records and china. Snacks, light meals and health foods are also available.

In addition to the regular monthly event, the DFM organised a three-day Christmas market, which began on 9 December.

“As we received a record number of applications for the event, we rented suitable accommodation in the Point Village, near the city centre. It is rather ironic that the buildings we took were built at the height of the Celtic Tiger era to accommodate the brand-name stores and remain empty to this day,” said Sharon Greene.  

For more information on the Dublin Flea Market, visit www.dublinflea.ie  

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