PORTLAND, Maine — After two years of searching, Nathaniel Baldwin and his fiancee Erin Kiley found the perfect building for their new business.
Now the building at 125 Kennebec St. is home to the Portland-Flea-for-All, a weekly indoor flea market that features local vendors and Maine-made products.
Baldwin and Kiley, originally from Massachusetts and Connecticut respectively, moved to Portland to start a business. Their love of flea markets and antiques led them to bring the flea market scene to the Portland area.
Three months ago the Flea-for-All took shape and is now a hotspot for local vendors and shoppers.
“I’m really excited to be in Bayside. It’s sort of an up-and-coming neighborhood.” Baldwin said about the location. “You don’t get a lot of foot traffic, so you have to create a draw. We’ve been working on that.”
Along with attracting people to the location, Baldwin and Kiley have their hands full choosing vendors and working on opening the building’s third floor. Baldwin has hopes of filling the building with more vendors, antiques and live music; making a “fun space” where shoppers can enjoy themselves while browsing through the locally made merchandise.
“It’s everything from hand-tailored clothing, to hand-blown glass, to vintage clothing and accessories; it’s all over the place,” Baldwin said.
The downstairs features clothing, jewelry, handbags and other small trinkets, while the upstairs is filled will consignment, antique and handmade furniture.
Currently the Flea-for-All features 15 to 30 vendors each day, but Baldwin hopes that number will continue to grow.
“Pretty much every day we have someone new. It’s not necessarily everybody’s new, we have people that stay from weekend to weekend, but pretty much every day you’re going to find somebody new,” Baldwin said. “The idea is to create a reason for people to come back.”
The process of becoming a vendor is not one that is taken lightly. Baldwin said each vendor is required to submit an application with photos of their products. Then Baldwin and Kiley look through the applications and pick the vendors that will best fit in. Approved vendors reserve booths or wall space, depending on their product, for the weekends that work best for them. The entire process is completed online at portlandfleaforall.com.
Despite the seemingly lengthy application process, vendor Brooke Dahl said it was easy for her and her boss, Jessica Robinson, to obtain a booth where they sell handmade bags, jewelry, dolls and trinkets, as well as some vintage clothing. The booth is an extension of Robinson’s Portland store, Monarch Mercantile, and Dahl credits the Flea-for-All for bringing more customers to the store. The booth is open at the flea market three weekends a month, so Dahl has had the opportunity to get to know the people around her.
“There’s such a great community here,” Dahl said. She also gushed about owners Baldwin and Kiley, saying that they are, “so wonderful” and always want to see the vendors thrive.
Tricia Donnelly and a friend came all the way from Conway, N.H., to visit the flea market. Donnelly said she has always been a big fan of yard sales and flea markets, so when a friend mentioned the Portland Flea-for-All she couldn’t let the opportunity pass by.
“This is our first time [here], but not our last!” she said earlier this month. “There’s so many things to choose from, I just can’t decide.”
Donnelly is not the only one to praise the Flea-for-All. Baldwin says the Flea-for-All has been getting great feedback. They’re also getting a consistent flow of shoppers throughout the weekend, which Baldwin believes will continue to increase as word about the business spreads.
“We love being surrounded by creative people and we’ve found some amazing vendors who create amazing things. And they’ve pretty much all become our friends through this,” Baldwin said. “We just have a really great time.”