By Zach Mosca
Flea markets are common in suburban areas like Youngstown, with vendors as far as the eye can see and food that can be smelled from miles away, but few flea markets can replicate the Youngstown Flea.
The Youngstown Flea has been going on once a month for four years and is being promoted this year with #seasonfour on social media. It features a variety of vendors, food and activities for the whole family.
Anyone who arrived within the first hour had the opportunity to take a free yoga class, and despite the early morning rain and cold weather, people still showed up. Yoga instructor Mickey Zalac said the rain gave her students a brand new experience.
“They said that they had never done yoga in the rain … and that was amazing just being able to stand and mountain pose and look up towards the sky and just have the rain fall on you. So, that was a new experience,” Zalac said.
Zalac has been practicing yoga for 15 years, but this is her first year of teaching it. She feels honored teaching what she has learned to other students.
“It’s been such a humble experience going from student to teacher, and I’m really honored every time I step onto my mat and others step onto their mats. It’s just a wonderful journey that we’re all able to go through together,” Zalac said.
Other activities included life-size games for kids such as Jenga and Connect Four, a variety of food and, of course, browsing all the different vendors.
Youngstown State University students Abigail Evans and Joshua Jenkins came to the flea together and bought a variety of items. Evans and Jenkins said they both go to the flea quite often.
Evans said she appreciates how unique the Youngstown Flea is compared to other flea markets.
“The shops always change. There’s always new people, and you can’t buy anything like this at a regular store,” Evans said.
Jenkins said the aspect of the flea that keeps him coming back is how it brings the community together.
“It’s kind of nice to see the community come together and just kind of have different stuff to offer and see a bunch of people,” Jenkins said.
Director of Penguin Productions, Carolyn Jesko, also visits the flea regularly and has been doing so since it started. She said in addition to browsing all the vendors, she always comes back for the food. Her personal favorite is The Big Green Thing food truck.
“I go to The Big Green Thing and get the grilled cheese with tomatoes and pickles, and it’s solid,” Jesko said.
When it comes to the vendors, no two stalls looked alike. Each one sold something unique to them and the salespeople were passionate about their works.
One of the stalls at this month’s flea was Flight School Apparel, a clothing pressing company selling various Youngstown gear for the flea, as well as other miscellaneous designs. Jovan Gonzales of Flight School said the company strives to put out the best quality designs.
“We press them up ourselves and we outsource everything locally as well. We try to get the best quality shirts and clothing that we possibly can and do all our own designs,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said that the support from Youngstown residents has helped his business grow tremendously.
“We’ve got a tremendous amount of people that are from the community that support almost anything from Youngstown and that’s been a blessing. That’s helped our business grow and I’m happy that people are liking what we’re doing,” Gonzales said.
The Youngstown Flea has something for everyone. The kids can play life-size games and try the food and the adults can check out the stalls and do yoga, providing a flea market experience unlike any other.