The Big Flea Invades New York City

The Big Flea Invades New York City!(All photos: Kaylei McGaw / Lonny)
Brimfield. Round Top. Clignancourt. When you think of the world's top flea markets, the illustrious Massachusetts, Texas, and Paris fairs are no doubt the ones that come to mind. But what's the New York City version? Dee Dee Sides, CEO of The Big Flea Market, decided to answer that question this weekend, when she brought her family's successful Washington DC and Fredericksburg, Virginia "Big Flea" to Manhattan's soaring Pier 94. 

The city's largest indoor flea market to date, the event was comprised of more than 600 booths spread over the Pier's over 100,000 square feet, with exhibitors selling everything from antique furniture and contemporary art to collectible sterling silver and vintage Hermès handbags. We spoke to Sides, whose family founded The Big Flea 38 years ago, to get an inside track on the trends and treasures from the show. Read on for the interview.

The Big Flea Invades New York City!

Why New York and why now?

Dee Dee Sides: My family is from this area and we've always had strong roots in Manhattan, so it's a natural thing to make it happen up here. The city really craves the design elements in these shows: they're the genesis of a lot of fashion and interior design. Cities like Paris or London have these really wonderful antique flea markets, and New York didn't have something substantial that could really become a staple in the city.

How do flea markets differ from place to place?
DS: Things definitely change depending on location in some regard, but there are elements that stay consistent. Something interesting about this particular show is that we have such a strong base of dealers from all over the country, and international dealers as well—from Paris, London, Canada. A number of them have never even shown in Manhattan before!

The Big Flea Invades New York City!

Can you speak to the range of items on offer?

DS: Everything has to be an antique—this is a more curated version of an "anything goes"-type flea market. So there are very high-end antiques dealers in the show, but you'll also be able to spend $20 and get something awesome. It's very eclectic. We have dealers that specialize in 18th and 19th century, we have dealers that specialize in Americana, midcentury modern—you'll find everything.  

Based on sales and the popularity of vendors, what are a few themes you see trending right now?
DS: A lot of the midcentury furniture translates easily to today's style, and a lot of the '50s, more tailored and structured fashion pieces mirror what we see in couture fashion right now. I got this beautiful floral dress, it literally looks like I could've just bought it on Madison Avenue—it reminds me of Oscar de la Renta.
The Big Flea Invades New York City!
Do you have any personal favorites from the show?

DS: Oh yeah. I have a particular love for midcentury modern furniture. It's so beautiful and so quality, and furniture that we buy brand-new today is almost trying to mimic a lot of it. I purchased this amazing Lucite table, which everyone is trying to recreate, and I really don't think you could find something of the same quality made now—especially not in the same attainable price range.

What's next for the New York Big Flea?
DS: The next show is on the calendar for this spring! April 18th and 19th. We are doing two a year right now, and then we're planning on moving into quarterly shows.
I'm the former Style Editor at Lonny.
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