Saturday, January 25, 2014

Treasure Island Flea Market

     The best thing about flea markets is the unique items one can find: historical relics that contain the traces of a thousand owners and their stories, odd-shaped furniture that would look perfect in the upstairs hall, a statue of a plump and quirky quail to amuse visitors, and even lawn creatures made out of odd bits of old metal. Flea markets are as much for the looking as the shopping. They are literally a treasure hunt, so it's fitting that the largest flea market I've been to occurs monthly on Treasure Island.
     Despite renewed concerns about radiation contamination on TI, I love visiting because it's a beautiful place with panoramic views of both spans of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco. The large palms that circle the island and the time-worn and abandoned buildings scattered here and there give TI a mystique that can be found nowhere else in the Bay Area.
     Treasure Island Flea is held in and around the World Fair building, and with over 300 vendors, the space still doesn't feel large enough. I was quickly overwhelmed by the amount of merchandise and the size of the crowd. The vendors outside the front of the building form a large market by themselves, but the bottom floor of the building is filled with more vendors. Vendors even fill most of the second floor. I was alarmed to make it through all these vendors and find even more gathered outside the back of the building.
     Vendors include craftspeople as well as antique and collectible sellers. We saw old war uniforms, cameras, typewriters, furniture, art, frames of every shape and size, fine and antique jewelry, new and vintage clothing, scarves, shelves made from skateboards, picture hangers made from crates and shutters, and much more.
     There were also quite a few of the famous Bay Area food trucks in attendance. We ate pork and chicken sliders and had a scoop of gourmet, preservative-free ice cream. There were also bartenders circulating through the market with carts where one could pick up mimosas, Bloody Mary's, and beer. In the back of the building an excellent DJ kept feet tapping and hips swaying, and trampolines entertained the kids.
     This event, like the Jack of All Trades Market that Treasure Island Flea hosts, is dog friendly. We passed many happy pooches enjoying the sunshine, crowd, and each other. The market organizers even had a jar of dog bones at the front entrance that were free for four-legged guests. Another bonus is the free parking, and we had no problem finding a spot.
     Even though the views, weather, and atmosphere of the market were beautiful, the crowds were the biggest I've seen at a Bay Area market or festival. It was nearly impossible to look in any depth at vendors inside the building because of the people trying to file past. Trying to make our way through the building felt like being stuck in rush hour traffic before a three-day weekend. The vendors outside the building were easier to shop, but the crowds were still large. If you don't like crowds, this event will probably not be enjoyable for you.
     There's also the cost to consider. There is a fee to get into the market (a modest $3). And the prices at the market were higher than I expected, even on the items that were not antique.
      Even with the crowds and higher prices, this market is a must. The variety and amount of vendors is unparalleled, the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, and the location is beautiful. You can like Treasure Island Flea on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. The next market dates are February 22nd and 23rd, March 29th and 30th, and April 26th and 27th. Visit for more information.

The views:

The vendors in front of the building:

The biscuit bowl and a couple dog visitors:

The crowds:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jack of All Trades Market at Jack London Square

     Jack London Square is a beautiful area that resembles a ghost town many days of the week, but great fairs and markets are starting to bring the foot traffic it deserves. Besides Patchwork and the Sunday farmer's market, Jack London also hosts the Jack of All Trades Market on the second Saturday of every month. This market is from the same folks who do Treasure Island Flea. My sister and I visited January's market, and we were impressed by the variety of vendors and pleased to see some of our favorites like OodleBaDoodle and hrvst/3D.
     Jack of All Trades is really one of the best markets in the Bay Area to find craftspeople from, you guessed it, all trades, and judging by foot traffic and shopper enthusiasm, I think this market will only keep expanding. There are vendors who work with metal, wood, fabric, plastic, and repurposed items. They sell antiques, art, vintage clothing, jewelry, furniture, food, craft beer, pet toys, olive oil, perfumes, soaps, and more.
     January's market was held indoors, but craftswoman Lisa Inez DeFehr told us that the market is sometimes held outside and stretches all the way down the waterfront. Lisa's shop was one of our favorites. She handcrafts unique pieces of jewelry: necklaces with bottle charms containing tiny bird feathers, dandelion seeds, paper roses, or flash mobs. She also had a necklace with three little pig charms and a wolf. She said many of her pieces have an element of fairytale in them, and one walks away from her booth feeling a bit of the enchantment.
     One of the best parts of Bay Area art and craft festivals is that you get to meet the designer, creator, or artist and talk with them about their creative process. Artist Sean Murphy ushered me to his booth with the Force. Actually, it was his Star Wars-themed art, specifically a picture of the Millenium Falcon flying over the Golden Gate with the Death Star posing as the moon in the background. He also had a picture of storm troopers sitting in a vintage Batmobile and a Darth Vader Buddha. Besides Star Wars, Murphy had pictures of Smurfs engaged in a little illegal gardening, if you know what I mean, and alien ships flying over the Golden Gate.
     All of Murphy's art is funky, surprising, and humorous. He signed the print I purchased and told me about how each is made, what the materials he uses are, and the effort it takes to produce just one. I plan to make my living room wall a tad cooler with the Millenium Falcon print I couldn't pass up.
     I was pleased to see hrvst/3D at the market and to check out the new Bay Bridge charm I hadn't seen before. Hrvst/3D makes earrings, necklace charms, and tiny figurines of beloved Bay Area landmarks and features like shipping cranes, the Transamerica Building, Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, Sutro Tower, and the oak tree (for Oakland). Most of their charms are made of 3D printed nylon, but they also have sterling silver and gold charms. Their pieces are so local and so unique!
     We were able to find items that friends and family will love, such as Giants wine glass bottle cap charms and finger puppets/pen toppers. There were multiple vendors selling a large variety of scarves in beautiful and unexpected shapes and sizes. There was a vendor selling rubber ducky soaps, another selling recycled steel drum sculptures, and still another selling repurposed wood tables of all shapes and sizes. And many of the Bay Area food trucks that have become a favorite at Off the Grid were gathered outside the market to satisfy hungry shoppers.
     One of the best things about this market is that it's dog friendly. Many people usually ignore the posted "No Pets" signs that are common at Bay Area festivals, but the atmosphere is not welcoming. At Jack of All Trades, pets were warmly acknowledged. I was happy to see the many dogs at the market and to do my shopping beside them.
     Overall, this market has one of the friendliest atmospheres of the Bay Area fairs, markets, and festivals. The latest Patchwork Show at Jack London required visitors to sign in at a table and walk down a sort of chute into the show, which made the atmosphere a little less inviting and a tad more chaotic. At Jack of All Trades, there were security guards but the atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming. If you're in the Bay Area, you can't miss this market. Not only will you find items that will surprise and delight you, but you'll be supporting many local and independent craftspeople. And that just feels good.

Giants Wine Glass Bottle Cap Charms

Hand Knit Finger Puppets and Pen Toppers

Bottle Charm Necklace with Dandelion Seed by Lisa Inez DeFehr
Visit her on Facebook at

Shipping Crane Earrings by hrvst/3D
Visit their website:

Dog Friendly!

Trendy Furniture Pieces

Handcrafted Tables

Food Trucks!

Golden Gate Bridge Pillow by OodleBaDoodle