from hillbilly to highbrow, the cleveland flea aims to launch a new saturday tradition

The St. Clair Superior Development Corporation and artist-entrepreneur Stephanie Sheldon are hoping to start a new tradition in Cleveland come spring -- an urban flea market that celebrates Cleveland's maker community and helps locals turn trash into treasure.

The Cleveland Flea will take place on the second Saturday of the month at E. 64th and St. Clair Avenue beginning in April. It will feature a mix of artisans, food trucks, pop-up and bricks-and-mortar retail, and educational demonstrations.

"It will be a look at the maker community in Cleveland combined with traditional flea aspects," says Sheldon, the energetic driver behind the startup businesses Parfait, Indie Foundry and Kiss and Bite. "It will be a mix of a curated selection of Cleveland artisans and a treasure hunt. It won't be all hillbilly or all highbrow."

While the Flea itself will take place outdoors, it dovetails with St. Clair Superior's Retail Ready project, which has lured new businesses to the area by working with local landlords to offer cheap rent, buildout funding and marketing assistance.

Sheldon says the idea came in part from her realization that Cleveland's artisan community could use a home. "I hear rumblings from people who ask, 'How do people find me in the oversaturated Etsy market? It's become really ineffective."

In addition to makers and locals selling their stuff, ideas for the CLE Flea include a pop-up restaurant for food trucks, educational programs on bike repair and starting a business, and a partnership with the Cleveland Salon.

Sheldon hopes the idea will catch on and grow quickly. A soft launch will take place on Saturday, February 23rd at the first-ever Cleveland Kurentovanje, a traditional Slovenian rite of spring that is coming to the area.

Source: Stephanie Sheldon
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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