Market Scene: District Flea in Washington, DC

Market goers grabbing food at District Flea [Photographs: Brian Oh]

DC has no shortage of farmers markets, but great flea markets are few and far between. Sure, there's Eastern Market, but the aisles threading those stalls are well-traveled. The dearth of outlets for weathered WWII-era trunks and vintage furniture sets notwithstanding, the growing interest in independent businesses and local food was what drew Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler to the District. The founders of New York's wildly popular Brooklyn Flea, Demby and Butler say they saw many of the same changes in DC that they'd witnessed in Brooklyn a few years ago.

District Flea is situated on a 37,000-square foot lot in Shaw and features over 70 antique and food vendors, selling everything from unopened Steve Urkel dolls to 30-year old drafting tables. Much like its Brooklyn counterpart, District Flea is focused on "providing a snapshot of what's going on in the area along the lines of creative collecting, making, and cooking." To fuel the masses of bargain and treasure hunters, the east and south edges of the lot are lined by roughly 20 food vendors from around DC (and a few from New York, too).

The food selection at District Flea includes big DC names like ChurchKey and Dolcezza, but also features up-and-coming vendors, some of which are making their commercial debut at the market. Having seen vendors in Brooklyn grow from a market stall to their own brick and mortar shops, Demby and Butler "like to keep a special eye out for new chefs."

District Flea debuted in mid-September and was originally slated to pack up after October 19th, but reception has been strong enough that it will run through November 30. To get a taste of District Flea, be sure to make it out to Shaw on one of the remaining Saturdays, from 10am to 5pm. For snapshots of the food vendors feeding the market, click through to the slideshow.