ENCINITAS, Calif. – Flea markets have been an institution in Los Angeles culture for decades, with dozens of markets offering shoppers eclectic collections of antiques and vintage clothing in carefully curated booths.
San Diegans would used to have to travel up north to get to one of these quintessential LA marketplaces, but not anymore. One of the most popular of these bazaars, Silverlake Flea, has come down south with a new satellite location: Moonlight Marketplace in Encinitas.
Owner and founder of Silverlake Flea, Fiora B, decided to bring the marketplace down to San Diego after a short stint living in Baja California, Mexico. She would drive through the region almost every weekend on her way to Los Angeles for her market.
“(I was) thinking it would be so cool to do something there,” Fiora said to FOX5SanDiego.com. “In Silver Lake lately, it’s just so busy right now. It’s such a good time for flea markets.”
Fiora started Silverlake Flea about 15 years ago, right around the time the crafting movement was starting to take root in LA. A gallery owner, she said she wanted to work with those artisans, but in a way that was separate from the exhibitions she’d host.
“I put them in my parking lot for the weekends,” she said. “(Then) I started bringing upcycled and vintage stuff, independent designers, and that’s sort of where it all turned into Silverlake Flea.”
Since then, the marketplace has flourished into one of the most popular weekend thrift spots for Angelenos, hosting about 80 vendors each weekend bringing together merchants that offer all different kinds of items from clothing and accessories to records and plants.
“(Vendors) basically set up their own little shops,” Fiora said. “They can have their own retail store, and they can have their own clientele.”
While the new Encinitas location of Silverlake Flea is still growing after it’s first day of sales about six months ago, Fiora hopes to get about the same number of vendors for the new market in the coming months, because the demand for these kinds of markets is only growing.
Secondhand shopping is a booming industry worldwide and is expected to more than double in revenue by 2026, reaching nearly $82 billion annually according to a 2022 market report by ThredUp and the analytics firm, Global Data.
The report said that most consumers of resale clothes do so to save money on the clothes whilst building a unique wardrobe in a sustainable way – turning away from fast fashion retailers like SheIn and Zara that dominated the mid-2010’s.
Thrifting is often viewed as the most affordable option for environmentally conscious consumers, as it’s a way to keep clothing in the cycle of use and consumption much longer – cutting down on waste and pollution that comes from manufacturing new clothes.
“The flea market is the new retail,” Fiora said. “People want to buy sustainable clothes.”
Although there are many places that those shopping secondhand can go, flea markets have become one of the go to places for people — particularly GenZers — looking to find resale or vintage treasures, with some even becoming sellers themselves.
“I couldn’t be happier with what’s going on with the turn to flea markets,” Fiora said. “It’s wild to watch.”
It’s become a staple weekend activity for many people, with new locales — like Silverlake Flea’s bazaar — in Encinitas cropping up everywhere.
For Fiora, these markets are like little communities and social hotspots themselves, bonding people together through clothes.
“People come for the social scene and stay for the clothes,” she said. “Human interaction and used goods, I like the way they go together.”
So for anyone looking for a new place to hang out and shop on the weekend, Moonlight Marketplace is open for business every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 459 S Coast Hwy.