Throngs of hipsters gathered in the basement of a derelict building on 1st and Battery last Saturday to sift through a variety of goods including handmade clothing and accessories, used books, old records and funky art. Though some might have come simply looking for affordable art, retro jewelry or vintage clothes, it was clear that most came just to experience the uniqueness that continues to be the Punk Rock Flea Market.
Even though it may have smelled like it, this wasn't your grandma's flea market. People perused while vendors served up veggie chili, local Georgetown brew and glasses of cheap whiskey, all to the tune of late 70s punk rock.
The Market was held in the Low Income Housing Institute. LIHI is a non-profit organization that builds homes for homeless and low-income people all around the Puget Sound. All proceeds from the event went to support the LIHI. According to the organizers from the Underground Center Events the market sold:
everything you can imagine, including records, clothing, furniture, computers, stereo equipment, housewares, haircuts, toys, videos, bicycles, tacos, falafels, vegan treats, skateboards, political propaganda, information from non profit groups, book stores, artists selling their work, bike repair, baby stuff, tarot readings & whatever else we can fit into the space. Don't let the name lead you to believe that we only welcome vendors selling punk records, clothes etc. The "Punk Rock" of the name refers as much to the DIY spirit of the event as it does to any particular music or lifestyle. 'Nuff said."
The basement was dark and weird paper-mâché mummies served as decor, but the mood was uplifting and energizing. These people were taking part in something alternative and loving it. They made up their own market, contacted local craftspeople and artisans, and they spread the news almost exclusively by word-of-mouth.
The Punk Rock Flea Market only happens a few times a year, and its fairly irregular schedule can make it tricky to plan around. So the next time you hear whispers about it, I suggest you go. I did find a MySpace page for the group, and I figure that if you friend them, you might be the first on the block to know about the next one.