The Result

  • The Roosevelt Mall Flea Market in Northeast Philadelphia has recently been cut in half after progressively expanding since reopening in July of 2015. It now takes place in the two original parking lots it started out in and the one in front of Dunkin’ Donuts it expanded to in it’s second season. All three lots now used are along the Cottman Avenue side of the mall.
  • There are now not enough spaces to accommodate the substantial vendor following it had cultivated in the past three seasons. Many vendors now claim their spaces by parking their cars and trucks in one of the flea market’s lots on Saturday night.
  • Vendors used to be able to get a space by showing up as late as 7:00 Sunday morning. Now, vendors showing up after 5:00 a.m. on Sunday will most likely NOT get a space.
  • Though on Phila Flea Markets’s (Philly Flea’s) website it describes this the new arrangement as temporary, from what I’ve gathered, it will be a permanent situation at least for the foreseeable future.

The Reason

A few days ago, Rob Hughes, a Delaware County vendor and frequent contributor to this website, sent word via the comments section of one of my posts that he had heard the Roosevelt Mall Flea Market at Cottman and the Boulevard had been reduced in size and vendors were having trouble getting spaces. At the time, I had heard nothing about this new development until Rob Hughes’s comment but upon becoming aware of it I immediately emailed Tony Soprano of Phila Flea Markets (the organization that runs the flea market at Roosevelt Mall) and by way of both an email correspondence and a face-to-face conversation on Saturday (10/7) at the Jefferson Square Park Flea Market he explained to me that as the flea market had grown over the years, of course it was using more sections of the mall’s parking lot to accommodate the more and more vendors who wanted to sell there in addition to the parking spaces taken up by the flea market shoppers.

As a result, roughly two weeks ago, mall management contacted Tony Soprano to inform him that several stores in the mall were complaining that by the time they opened on Sunday mornings, there were hardly any parking spaces left for their customers or employees. Not wanting to shut down the flea market altogether, management and Tony Soprano came to a compromise to cut the flea market back to the three parking lots sections along Cottman Avenue.

This is pretty big news for a flea market that had been so popular for many years in the past, had closed down for 12 years, and then returned again to much fanfare. The Northeast section of the city and the Roosevelt Mall Flea Market vendors particularly have always been passionate and very loyal and this flea market has the well-earned reputation of being a place to find soup-to-nuts at, for the most part, affordable prices—if not dirt cheap. It is and always has been a potential wonderland for collectors, dealers, secondhand store owners, and bargain hunters of all types to find the proverbial treasures temporarily masquerading as trash. Many vendors I’m sure are extremely disappointed by this new development.

New Merchandise is the New Not-Welcome

The rule at Roosevelt Mall Flea Market had always been that new merchandise was not allowed; however, as anyone who has sold or shopped there knows, the rule was very loosely enforced, if at all. Too many vendors for staff to deal with and too little time and manpower to effectively police what each vendor was selling. Henceforth, several dealer so new merchandise easily slipped through the cracks. Besides, as long as the overwhelming majority of vendors had used merchandise, which they did, a few new-merchandise vendors wouldn’t/didn’t matter. Now, however, with so many less spaces available, the no-new rule must be enforced as every space becomes so much more valuable to the individual used vendors—those following the rules. Tony Soprano informed me that the first week he had to cut down the flea market he personally handed flyers to vendors selling new merchandise informing them that they could finish out the day but will no longer be welcome to sell there again.

Hasn’t This Happened Before?

All this should sound very familiar as Phila Flea Markets was involved in a similar situation earlier this year. The organization had started a First Tuesdays vintage market at the Bensalem Square Shopping Center, which is also a mall. The first show was on July 4 (2017) and, not unlike what happened at Roosevelt Mall, a supermarket at Bensalem Square complained to mall management that too many parking spaces were taken up by the flea market’s vendors and shoppers. In that case, management decided to put an end to the flea market after just the one show. However, I also found out on Saturday from Tony Soprano that there has been a new development in the Bensalem situation as well and I will report on it in the near future.