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The 818 Market introduces the younger generation to flea markets

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

A Pierce College student organized and hosted a new flea market in the San Fernando Valley.

By Natalie Metcalf, Valley Life Editor

The 818 Market opened on an overcast Saturday morning at 11 a.m. and stayed open till 4 p.m. at the Westfield Sherman Oaks mall, March 12, 2023. (Griffin O'Rourke | Valley Star)

On a cloudy Saturday, around 70 hip and trendy San Fernando Valley residents shuffled toward the 818 Market in the parking lot of the Sherman Oaks Mall. Pierce College student Mary Jane Alvarez brought together small businesses from around the area, capturing the attention of millennials and Generation Z.

Alverez wanted to create a sustainable market for the San Fernando Valley by hosting one every month, after not seeing many when she grew up. When the communications major was a kid, she would go to flea markets in Los Angeles. As a communications major, the 26-year-old wants to create more markets in the future.

“It’s great for them [the vendors] to grow their passions and feel supported by the market,” said Alvarez. “I’m rooting for them because a lot of the vendors here, it’s their first event. I find it so special because it’s my first event too.”

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., around fifteen vendors set up booths for their businesses. Popular booths sold clothing, self-defense keychains, Funko-pop bobbleheads, used records, pottery, baked goods, tattoos and permanent jewelry.

The goal of the 818 Market is to support small businesses in the Valley. This event is not in relation to the 818 Night Market, which is a festival containing music, food and games in Northridge.

Some of the vendors stood out more than others, attracting more people through music, samples of food or their merchandise. Three of the most popular vendors were Bella Vixen Self-Defense Items, DJ Lyrikes Records and Shop Ciao Kay.

Kristina Small is the owner of Shop Ciao Kay, a permanent jewelry business. Clients are able to pick out vintage or new chains and charms provided by Small. The process takes 15 minutes to complete.

“What I like about pop-ups is it does take small vendors and you get to encourage other people’s dreams and meet new people,” said Small, who has previously been to 10 events.

Bella Vixen Self-Defense Items is a business created by Jackie Soriano. The small business owner creates self-defense keychains called Safety Set, which contain pepper spray, a window breaker tool, an alarm flashlight and a bottle of hand sanitizer. Soriano used to be an Uber driver, but after a scary experience with a customer, she came up with the key chains.

Oscar Vega has been a DJ since he was 15 years old, and now at 42 he wants to share his collection of records with the community. Over the COVID-19 pandemic, Vega noticed he had multiple copies of records. At the 818 Market, the small business owner’s booth contained crates of records ranging from Artic Monkeys to No Doubt. The 42-year-old also was selling Disneyland trading pins and Hello Kitty stickers. His goal for the booth was to create a nostalgic environment, similar to Amoeba Music in Hollywood.

DJ Oscar Vega at his records and memorabilia shop at the 818 market at Westfield Sherman Oaks Mall on Saturday, March 11, in Sherman Oaks, California. The open-air market included thrift shops, jewelry shops and a tattoo shop. (Griffin O'Rourke | Valley Star)

Unlike most flea markets, most vendors utilized Zelle, Venmo and Cashapp as forms of payment. The 818 Market will commence every second Saturday of the month and feature a different set of small businesses in the San Fernando Valley.

“What I liked best about the market was how welcoming, open and honest [Alvarez] was,” said the owner of Shop Ciao Kay. “She showed support immediately by tagging all who were involved [on social media]. ”


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