The Anoka Fling Flea Market draws shoppers to the Knights of Columbus hall monthly through April.
Joe Jarvinen “wanted his garage back,” as his wife, Tracy, recalls it, and that was part of what led her to start the annual Anoka Fling Flea Market in the winter of 2009.
At the time, the Jarvinens’ garage was chock-full of antiques and collectibles they’d amassed through the years. As they sought ways to downsize, the Anoka couple started shedding pieces of their collection at local flea markets, antique stores and the like.
It turned out to be a fun side-job. That’s when the idea for an indoor market during the wintertime occurred to Tracy Jarvinen.
“Being antique dealers, we were always looking for a place to sell in the winter,” she said.
Now the Anoka Fling Flea Market fills that void. The market takes over the Knights of Columbus hall in downtown Anoka on the second Sunday of each month, October to April. The next sale is set for Dec. 8.
Although initially Jarvinen had wanted a wintertime flea market to participate in herself, these days she sticks to the producing side of things as opposed to selling. The space usually fills up, she said, adding, “I ran myself out of my own space.”
The market, which has had several locations since its inception, reflects her interest in antiques and collectibles.
A separate, craft-heavy market that also runs monthly in the winter began at the hall last year. “There was enough interest in crafting that it split into a separate event,” Jarvinen said.
Likewise, a larger summertime flea market sprang up at the same venue last year.
It helps that the city has plenty of antique stores, Jarvinen said. In some places, antique stores are disappearing, but it’s a thriving business in Anoka. Here, the business “seems to be holding its own and it’s actually growing,” she said.
‘It’s about the treasure hunt’
Each month, the market draws up to 30 vendors, a mix of people who “bring a bit of everything,” she said.
Purses, vintage glass beads, homemade jams and jellies, military artifacts, unused makeup and comics are just some of the types of goods that might surface at the market. A coupon-clipper sells lots of unopened merchandise while others dabble in something called “junking,” which is about reusing items to make something new.
Some people resell hardware that they think might be useful to somebody else. “I have a guy who does scrapping, going into houses and pulling out fixtures before houses are torn down,” Jarvinen said.
For many vendors, flea markets are easier to sell at than antique stores, which involve higher overhead costs. “You have to rent the space,” she explained.
At the flea market, vendors can rent a table or a booth for the whole season or specific dates. The market takes vendors on a rolling basis as space allows, she said.
Some people who take part in the market do this for a living, while others are just getting rid of things or trying to make a little extra cash. “For a lot of folks, this is a hobby,” Jarviven said, adding that she also works a full-time job for the state.
Similarly, in recent years, she’s seen more shoppers “trying to make their dollars stretch farther than they’ve ever had to,” she said.