9th and U Street Market or How I almost Got My Ass Kicked

IMG_6016, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I had really been looking forward to checking out the 9th and U St. Flea Market…little did I know. The photo above almost cost me a serious ass kicking. I’m kind of like Vinny Testaverde, one more ass kicking and it will do me some serious permanent damage. So even though that is not the greatest picture you have to appreciate it just a little bit given the circumstances. You see when I tried to take the above picture the proprietor of the stand beneath it pretty much freaked out. And her very large friend advised me not to take any photos. After some serious pleading – alright fine – crying, I promised only to capture the sign and not any of her merchandise for sale. So please ignore the jackets in the picture for my own safety. Please.

Anyway, the Flea Market is one of the most eclectic markets I’ve ever seen. They sell everything from electronics, to fruit, to socks, to African sculptures, to shoes, to jackets, to canned salmon, well you get the point. Now I took a number of photos which you’ll be able to see after the jump and my suspicion is that this market may not be totally on the up and up. Let’s just say some of these electronics and such may have “fallen” off the truck. That is the only explanation I have to explain the looks I received as I was taking photos and jotting down notes. Well, there is also a very large immigrant community at this market and perhaps, some may still be undergoing some paperwork because the iciness of the stares I got resembled the look on Rocky Marciano’s face when he stared down Joe Louis.

I really don’t know how to sum up this experience but if you leave your camera and note pad at home you won’t have any problems and you can find some pretty interesting items, that is for sure. If you are going for the electronics you may want to bring a certain moral flexibility…

39 Comment

  • always figured the nice stuff there was hot. the reaction you got pretty much confirms that.

  • Was anyone selling any bikes? Perhaps this is a good place to look if yours goes “missing”. With how blatantly people put stolen bikes on Craiglist, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re selling them at flee markets too…

  • I bought a Willard there last week. Sacamano Sr. was on a east coast flea market tour.

  • Oops. “flea” market…

  • i kinda like the flea market, but its pretty clear that you could warm your hands on some of the goods. lets put it that way……

  • Parkwood: it was a “flee” market in PoP’s case!

  • Sickening. I will certainly stay away from that flea market for good.

  • I would imagine that many of the electronic goods here are hot. However, from the picture it looks like the guy is selling counterfeit North Face gear.

    I was at Eastern Market on Sunday and there was a guy with lots of Lacoste shirts, again presumably counterfeit.

    Anyway, to me there is a difference between selling stolen goods – the theft of which completely violates he individual victim – and the more “victimless” crime of counterfeit goods.

    I don’t really see any harm in the fake handbags for sale all over downtown. Yes, I know that copyright theft is simply that – theft. But I do see a big difference between that and housebreaking or mugging and then selling the loot.

    Then again, I’m neither judge nor jury.

  • I see a harm in the counterfeit goods – not to go on a rant but if I save up my money to buy something nice, it sort of depreciates it if a bunch of people are running around with fakes ones. Also, I’ve read articles that counterfeiting in China is like the new money laundering for terrorist funding, but who knows…

  • I just had Three bikes stolen from my home, so I will check it out

    when do they operate?

  • Mr. Lacoste wouldn’t say it’s a victimless crime, Rafa.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    They are open Sat. and Sun. 9-5 but I didn’t see any bikes for sale.

  • Anon- look on craigslist over the next week. I found mine that way, and it only takes a few minutes a day.

  • Parkwood Person, belive me, I am all over it. One of them is not exactly off the shelf. It would stick out for sure.

    but I am going pawn shopping tonight

  • Perhaps some of the dectives from MPD could go “shopping” there from time to time. Pretty funny that people fence stolen goods with out a care in the world. Kind of reminds me of my time in Nairobi!

  • I think the people who would normally buy designer clothing would want real designer clothing and wouldn’t be caught dead in a knock-off, and the people who do buy counterfeit designer clothing could never afford the real thing anyway. So I don’t think the counterfeiters are stealing Mr. Lacoste’s business. Even though the goods are similar, the counterfeiters are the designers are catering to two totally different demographics.

  • It’s sad that so many people are confused about photography in public. I’ve even had to protest just to declare my photographic freedoms: http://www.bellybuttonwindow.com/2007/america/arrested_for_photography.html

  • Anon: Ah, the old “stealin’ intellectual property, trademarks, copyrights, and trade dress ain’t really stealin'” argument. I feel ya, but that and a pack of smokes will get lil’ entrepreneurs new friends in federal prison. Mr. Lacoste don’t play that.

  • It looks a little better than it used to actually might have stuff that I want to buy. But boy do I miss the absolutely gigantic flea markets in California — the one near the community college in downtown Oakland took at least 3 blocks. And went under an overpass for a whole other area. People would come from all over California to sell their stuff. So you’d have someone who had nothing but plugs from random appliances. Old video games. Or the boxes and boxes of old photographs. And the fruits and vegetables too. And cheap underwear and socks from China. As an art student, I don’t know how I would have survived without those flea markets. I had a neighborhood in a live/work loft that tiled their floor with a box of old linoleum that they got at the Coliseum flea market. Of course the Berkeley one was a little more expensive than the others, but was also pretty good. Later you’d find the same stuff at a “shabby chic” gift store for 10 times what you paid.

  • Yeah, City Bikes in Adams Morgan found a bike at the flea market that was stolen out of their shop. Pretty clear that a lot of the electronics are hot. Not much different than a lot of the pawn shops down on U street – plenty of stolen crap there too. Guess MPD has their hands full with violent crimes these days.

  • There is no such thing as a victimless crime unless you’re stealing the clothes off a dead man. Counterfeiting hurts more than the Mr Lacostes. It hurts everyone who works for or buys goods from Mr Lacoste. Years ago I used to sell limited edition prints. One day one of my artists alerts me to a guy selling his limited editon prints unsigned and unnumbered for $5.00 at a flea in Columbia. The prints I had were signed and numbered with a COA and priced at $150. So who’s the victim here? The artist who doesn’t get a dime for the sale, the gallery owners that don’t get the sale, and the dealer that doesn’t get a commission on the sale. The guy selling the counterfeits worked for the printing company that printed the artwork and was actually selling the low quality color proofs and damaged or defective prints that he pilfered out of the printing company’s dumpster.

    Oh, and the buyer is usually getting a far inferior product, too.

  • i understand not wanting my person to be photographed, but pretty much anything else in a public space is fair game. at least he wasn’t a governmet official trying to tell you not to snap photos. then we’re in trouble. oh, wait…. asking before hand also helps.

  • Ha yeah sometimes pointing a camera the wrong direction can be dangerous. Once I was taking a picture of Columbia rd that had a guy selling CD’s in the frame. When I took the camera away from my face I realized about five of his friends were surrounding me. “Give us the film man!” “Why you taking pictures?” “Are you INS? Police?” “Give us the camera”. I’m 20, look younger and was probably wearing a band t-shirt at the time, so I was kind of surprised to be mistaken for the law. The dude came over and asked who I was and what I was doing, so I explained that I was a student and I was working on a project. In a friendly, but cautious way, he grilled me about my school and how our basketball team was doing until he seemed comfortable I wasn’t trying to bust anyone. “Sorry bout that man, but you gotta be careful. A lot of people around here don’t have papers so they get a little jumpy when someone with a camera shows up.” He offered to pose for a pic and I went on my way. Ive been a little more careful when shooting potentially illegal stuff since then.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I hear y’all. But for the record, I didn’t go to this Flea market knowing it was filled with potentially “hot” or counterfeit merchandise. Perhaps I was a bit naive

  • it is a shame to see the way the flea market has gone down. I remember when it used to be in the lot that is now the ellington, then after that the space next that is now langston lofts…I have not been since it moved to 9th street..

  • Haven’t the dc police learned anything from the wire? When Lester got kicked out of homocide and sent to the pawnshop unit, it was his job to log in every item over $50 in case it came up as stolen in a police report.

    Doesn’t seem too hard.

  • Come on what do think? Nobody would be foolish to sell stolen goods 8 blocks away from the police station. what do you think we are stupid. by the way did you see my doughnut cooker there ? I cant sleep since it was removed from my house without permission .

  • you should check out the florida (NE) capital market – open saturdays…even more than the U street market

  • boo-hoo. I saved up all my money and now my fancy bag is being carried by someone who surely can’t afford it. Slave to fashion and labels soon to be slave to much worse.

  • The hazards of gentrification include missinterpreting differences in communication because of culture, assuming, and other such adventures in ignorance…

    You’re living within different cultural area, Prince.

    How about asking people next time, instead of drawing your own conclusions?

    Most people don’t bite other folks…In public.

  • I’m surprised by the general consenus in these comments that counterfeit goods pose a serious problem.

    Again, I fully recognize that ripping off someone’s design is theft, but I do see a difference between selling snide North Face jackets and ripping off an independent artist selling numbered prints.

    The snide jackets are akin to burning a CD or illegally downloading a track. Yes, it’s a crime and yes, “terrorists” can make a profit from it to support their much more harmful activities. However, it’s not like fake prescription drugs or fake tobacco or booze products which can cause serious damage. The only damage a snide Lacoste does is to the street cred of the wearer when all his mates work out he’s wearing a snide!

  • “The snide jackets are akin to burning a CD or illegally downloading a track.”

    yeah, Illegally burning a CD or illegally downloading a track is theft.

    Since when is stealing from a big pot (“successful” company) better than sealing from small one (starving artist)?

    Would it be okay then to steal from, say…. a successful artist who used to be poor?

  • “…or fake tobacco products that can cause serious damage…”

    Pretty sure the “real” tobacco products do that already 🙂

  • wow. did it occur to you that if your photography was unwanted, perhaps it would be better to put the camera away? i’m sure your site could have survived another day without violating people’s privacy/wishes and putting unwanted pictures of them on an internet site read by so many people.

  • Violating wishes, yes. Violating privacy, no. This is an open air, outdoor market operating on a major street in an urban environment. There is simply no way to construe taking pictures in a public space as violting someone’s privacy.

    And ya know, if these folks were on the up and up, why would they object to what essentially amounts to FREE advertising?

  • Keep the photos coming!

  • “The hazards of gentrification include missinterpreting differences in communication because of culture, assuming, and other such adventures in ignorance…”

    prince of petworth please take a hint already!
    your patronizing attitude sucks!
    the stares you recieved seem to be much deserved.

    you need to learn respect.

  • A year later, I can tell you that this market is very different now.

    The only electronics I have seen at this market are mid 90s or earlier junk. I don’t think any of those electronics are sold anywhere aside from pawnshops. They certainly haven’t fallen off of backs of any trucks.

    Your ‘eclectic’ description sounds positive. But this market is like a really bad pawnshop. You think you might find something interesting, only to discover it really is just a bunch of junk, tube socks, and casette players.

  • this flea market has really deterioated over the past few years. and for the most part the electronic stuff is junk. a lot of these vendors buy this stuff from other thrift stores and from other vendors. the bike situation tho is different and there have been many MPD “raids” and the bikes were confiscated because they were stolen. some of the vendors there are really small businesses..they go to auctions and then re-sell the merchandise. some of the vendors don’t pay taxes, some don’t have papers….but to the girl who doesn’t like the fact that she saves up her money to buy the real thing (designer purses) and therefore does’t want a bunch of others with knock-offs is a douche bag…nothing personal girl but that is one of the most stoopid comments I’ve ever heard/read.

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