Erin Kiley and Nathaniel Baldwin went through two years' worth of business planning, real estate hunting, and city permitting so that dozens of other entrepreneurs won't have to. Their enterprise, the Portland Flea-for-All, is about to open its doors in 3 stories of a gorgeously wood-beamed former mattress factory in the heart of Bayside.
The Flea-for-All is a flea market for Portland's craftspeople, yard sale recyclers, and other creators. When it opens for business on the weekend of April 14-15, it will offer a brick-and-mortar presence for dozens of small entrepreneurs for as low as $30 a day for a 6 foot square booth. The market will also sell crafts on consignment, and wall space will be available for artists to show and sell their work outside of a gallery setting.
"We won't be a typical junk market," says Erin. "We're cultivating quality sellers, and a variety of goods — we'll have furniture, housewares, crafters..."
"The more diverse our vendors, the more people we can bring in as customers," Nathaniel adds.
"We want it to be a market for every age, style, and budget," says Erin.
Erin and Nathaniel moved to Portland two years ago from Santa Monica, California. They came here, they say, because they were attracted to Portland's affordability, its potential to grow, and its entrepreneurial culture.
Finding a space large enough and inexpensive enough for their vision was a big challenge, as was the long slog through permitting and financing the new enterprise. "For a new entrepreneur, it was often hard to find the right path through the process," says Erin. Still, after nearly two years' worth of groundwork, "at least we know now that we're really ready. The fun stuff lies ahead."
The Flea-for-All finally found a home in a former mattress factory between Preble and Elm Streets in Bayside, a former industrial neighborhood that has been the target of City Hall's economic development initiatives for the past decade. They give their landlord, Tod Dana, a lot of credit for supporting their idea and sharing their entrepreneurial enthusiasm.
The market's front entrance is just steps away from the western terminus of the new Bayside Trail (Kiley and Baldwin want to offer special incentives to shoppers who arrive by foot or by bike) and the new-ish Trader Joe's. Bayside Bowl is a block away in the opposite direction. A string of empty lots alongside the trail, where a railroad yard used to be, may soon start sprouting high-rise apartment buildings. And their next-door neighbor is Portland Architectural Salvage, a business that seems to share the recycled-value aesthetic that the Flea-for-All aspires to.
"There's good growth around here, a lot of potential," says Erin. "I think we got here at the right time."
Portland Flea-for-All will be accepting applications from potential vendors on a rolling basis, but if you're interested in getting in in time for the grand opening weekend in April, you should fill out their handy online application by this Friday, March 16th.