Rocky River resident Shannon Vance, owner of Stash Style, and Lakewoodite Robin Sweeney, maven of Cosmic Collectibles and Cosmic Girl Goes Home, became fast friends on the challenging traveling antiques and flea market circuit.
Setting up their booths, then selling and smiling through wind, rain, heat and cold, they realized both were dedicated to a lifestyle that was swiftly changing into something they did not like: more craft fair than a celebration of antiques and vintage.
This Saturday, the result of their decision to stop complaining and do something can be enjoyed by all: The first of what they hope will be many Standard Market events will take place from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at 19940 Ingersoll Drive in Rocky River. The one-day market at the Stash Style warehouse off of Linda Street will include nearly 30 vendors featuring vintage dealers and local artists.
There also will be two food trucks and a visit by City Dogs, a group located near Gordon Square that is a program of the city of Cleveland’s Division of Animal Care and Control, and supported by Friends of the Cleveland Kennel.
“It seemed that as a business as a whole, the bottom was falling out,” Sweeney said in a recent interview at her Lakewood home. Henry, her 225-pound English Mastiff dog, as if sensing her unhappiness, pressed his large head against the window overlooking the porch where Sweeney was sitting. She would turn periodically and smile at him, being rewarded with a loud “WOOF.”
“People are buying furniture, painting it and selling it on Etsy and Instagram,” she said. “But it’s just not the same as walking through a market and finding treasures.”
Last year, as she and Vance were talking about their growing unhappiness with the industry, the two hatched an idea — hold a vintage market in Rocky River and bring back the magic. Vance’s Stash Style is a clothing, candle and mug wholesale business based in Rocky River. Both she and Sweeney used to love the camaraderie and atmosphere at the Cleveland Flea, but realized it, too, was becoming something they no longer enjoyed. In addition, the booth fees were raised to $600 (from $50 in 2014 or 2015, according to Sweeney), making it harder for vendors to see a profit.
Standard Market booth fees have been kept to $50, the women said. There will be no admission fee, also unlike the Cleveland Flea and many other fleas.
“We want to bring back the fun,” said Sweeney, who owned the store Cosmic Collectibles for six years on Madison Avenue and for a dozen years on Detroit Avenue across from the old Lakewood Hospital. Sweeney gave up the “brick and mortar” stores several years ago and now travels to approximately 19 markets from Omaha (the Junk Market) to the east coast. She recently returned from the Country Living Fair: Rhinebeck, a show in upstate New York.
“I love my life,” she said. “But we want to go back to the vintage and unique roots.”
Vance, who started Stash Style in 2001 and once had stores in Lakewood and Chagrin Falls, decided seven years ago to stop traveling to markets, close the stores and devote herself to the wholesale business. Her most popular items include T-shirts, tea towels, candles and coffee mugs. Three years ago, she rented an 8,500-square-foot warehouse on Ingersoll.
The Standard Market “will have about 23 booths inside and five or six outside,” Vance said, recently walking through the cavernous space she was in the process of clearing for vendors. “We want this to be special. It is an option for people that they don’t have to drive far to attend.”
Parking will be free, and “there are plenty of spots,” she added.
Both women said they hope that Saturday’s event will be the start of two markets a year — in the summer and one for the holidays. “I think that’s plenty,” Sweeney said. “Let’s bring back the fun!”
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