Summer Calls for Shopping Outdoors

stalls of antique and vintage market

Thinking about summer it is all about al fresco dining, outdoor concerts and enjoying the beach. What you don’t hear people talking about is outdoor shopping. Whether it’s a street fair, a stoop sale or a flea market, scoring great bargain with the sun shining down has always been the highlight of my summer.

I was introduced to flea markets by my grandmother. The first one we ever visited is still going strong at the border of Brooklyn and Queens. I remember it like it was yesterday. She bought me a hot dog and a pair of Jellies. I can still recall all the vendors peddling food, socks, furniture and knick-knacks. At that point, most of my shopping was done in malls or major strips in New York. I was used to merchandise perfectly organized on shelves and salespeople pinching my cheeks. But this vast concrete bazaar left me wanting more.

In my adolescent and teen years, I discovered street fairs. At these fairs, I became open to multiethnic culinary delights. Now, I did not have to venture into ethnic enclaves of each borough to get my feast on. Instead, I had the opportunity to improve my palate within a 4-block distance. Along with ethnic food, I also learned about additional ethnic products. From the South East Asian jewelry, to the knits from Ecuador, and the oils from Africa, I was becoming a global customer. And I was right in my hometown! Street Fairs are still going strong, and when I get a chance, I stroll through one to recapture my early years.

Flea markets have come into my life, as both a customer and as a vendor. During the summer of 2012, I held down the fort at DeKalb Market (which no longer exists) with my vintage collection. It was fun, but not the most profitable. In Brooklyn you can make a full experience out of attending a flea market especially with the highly curated BK Flea. The hipster area is full of high-end meets lowbrow food, vintage clothing and furniture dealers. There are also flea markets in the Upper West Side and all throughout Long Island filled with Bargain Hunters.

The next time you are wondering what to do on a Saturday or Sunday, forgo your brunch plans and head to your closest outdoor shopping adventure! You will enjoy it more than your usual plans.

Native New Yorker Shaunya is the owner and curator of VintageShaun, a collection of vintage clothing with a contemporary vision that has been featured in NBC’s The Today Show. She is a longtime Goodwill fan and style expert. Last May, Shaunya collaborated in Goodwill’s Spring Fling the Excess, our Earth Day/spring cleaning promotion. Most recently, she styled models for Goodwill Suits You, a fashion show to mark October, National Disability Employment Awareness month.

You may also read her blog: or follow her on Twitter @vintageshaun

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