U Street Flea Market survives winter hiccups

Michael Sussman doesn’t shy away from all-weather flea markets. After all, he’s been organizing the year-round Georgetown Flea Market for the past four decades.

But this winter has proven difficult for the launch of his next flea market venture, the U Street Flea Market. Although the market in the parking lot next to Nellie’s Sports Bar soft-opened last week with a few vendors, a ribbon-cutting with D.C. Councilman Jim Graham (D – Ward 1) has now been pushed back twice due to “unpredictable and cold weather conditions.” (The grand opening is now scheduled for March 29.)

The market, which will run on Saturdays and Sundays at 912 U St. NW, has space for 24-30 vendors, depending on their size. Sussman hopes to gradually increase the number of vendors during the next few weeks.

“These kids are down on U Street where a lot of action is, and they’ve shown an interest in collecting,” Sussman said. “So we thought it would be fun to open a market on U Street. It’s a very eclectic community.”

It will likely have less furniture and more small goods and clothing than Georgetown.

“It’ll probably be more jewelry, more smaller items, decorative pieces,” Sussman said. “Mid-century is very important to this age group. They’re not interested in their parents’ oak or mahogany furniture. There will be a lighter feel to it.”

He hopes to bring in some of the vintage clothing and other stores further west on U Street that are looking for a an outdoor presence.

U Street Flea Market will have some pretty stiff competition come April. That’s when District Flea, the 100-vendor flea market from New York-based Brooklyn Flea, reopens for the season. District Flea boasts food, crafts, vintage clothing and other decorative items.

But Sussman doesn’t think the larger flea market, which sets up at 945 Florida Ave. NW, will do harm to his venture.

“It’s like car dealerships. They all want to be near each other, because people shopping for cars are in the market,” Sussman said. “People will be able to hit two at the same time.”

As for the harsh winter, Sussman said he has faith that the U Street Flea Market can be viable year round.

“Our lease is year-round, and a lot of the vendors, this is kind of how they make their living,” he said. “Our costs are the same whether or not we open for the winter, so if people want to come out and try to make a living, I’m all for it.”

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