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District Flea “going on hiatus–effective immediately” – Union Kitchen Possibly Taking Over the Space

by Prince Of Petworth May 13, 2014 at 11:11 pm 30 Comments

945 Florida Ave, NW

Thanks to a vendor of District Flea for passing on:

“Eric from Brooklyn Flea here, writing on behalf of Hugh and my partner, Jonathan Butler.

After much deliberation and with much sadness, we are sorry to report that District Flea in its current incarnation is going on hiatus–effective immediately, the Flea is no longer operating, including this Saturday’s market.

We don’t take this decision lightly. We know how much valuable time and effort you have all invested in making District Flea distinctive since last fall, and we are sincerely grateful to everyone who participated, whether once or weekly. We are so proud of the high quality of goods and food District Flea offered, of the professionalism and class our vendors displayed, and of the community spirit the market generated in its short run.

We want to thank Hugh for his Herculean efforts in assembling a world-class destination from scratch within a matter of weeks, and for steering District Flea through its share of storms, literally and figuratively. Thanks Captain Hugh!

In the end, the volume of vendors didn’t support our ambitious business model for a weekly market. We think this location still has a lot of potential, so stay tuned for news in the future.”

Word on the street is that Union Kitchen may take over the space but updates when more info is known.

  • Anonymous

    Such a bummer!

  • XO

    Not completely unexpected, unfortunately. The first few weeks last autumn had a TON of non-food vendors, including at least one from the NY area (who I’m assuming the Brooklyn Flea people invited to make the trip down I-95). The number of booths has really fallen off this spring, and it seems to be the same vendors every time I visit. There are still plenty of food vendors, but if you can shop the whole flea market in less than an hour, why stick around to eat? It really is too bad– District Flea was fantastic in October, I found some really great stuff there and ate a few delicious meals, too. All from vendors that haven’t been back this spring.

  • Anonymous

    Just goes to show us DC is not NY.

    • dcreal

      Of course we are–just short of about 7.5 million people.

    • kken

      You have to be NYC to support a flea market?

    • Oh Sweet Thing

      *clutches pearls*

      • bruno

        New York isn’t really much like New York anymore either :^(

  • Anonymous

    There was a vendor at the first flea market of this spring who was selling cool low maintenance terrariums. Does anyone know who they are/if they sell through any other outlets? I really wanted to pick one or two up but didn’t have time that day and I haven’t seen them when I’ve returned on other occasions.

    • a little less anon

      Those guys show up at Eastern Market sometimes. I think they’re a Saturday vendor?

    • Lisa

      I think it was WaPo writer Holley Simmons who does the terrariums on the side. http://dc.racked.com/tags/holley-simmons

  • Oh Sweet Thing

    Wow, what a shame. The handful of times I went it was wall to wall people, so I am a bit surprised. I hope this is a reflection on the market only, and not on the whole area.

    • cbc

      Wow. The times I went this spring there were so many people and so many more food vendors from last year, it was exciting. Maybe they should run a Smorgasburg-type event here.

      • lily

        I agree, a Smorgasborg style event could totally work! Maybe a District Flea/Union Kitchen partnership?? Could be really awesome. (I hope the organizers read the comments!)

  • Anonymous

    super, major, mega bummer.

  • Anon

    Meh. Never got the concept. Most of us in this area live in <600 square feet per person. Every time I buy an article of clothes I have to throw something else out or into storage. Who has room for old junk?

    Food and other consumables I get, but there are so many restaurants, patios, brunches, etc these days with a wide selection of drinks and actual toilets, buying from their food vendors was not compelling.

    Go big or go home on that lot. E.g. a farmers market that would blow 14th & U farmers market out of the water. Have a moonbounce in a corner for kids. That would be a unique/compelling option for some parents – ability to have a bite to eat & a beer while kids run out some energy.

    • AG

      Yeah, cuz people in New York live in McMansions?

    • Anonymous

      Ha, I know what you mean. I live 1 block from Eastern Market, and walk through the outdoor market every Saturday and Sunday, but I only buy gifts and consumables from there. I don’t think city-dwellers buy that much stuff, and it’s one of the reasons retail is always struggling here.

  • etcetera

    We only went once – last fall – and it was packed. We spent $$, too! Disappointed and surprised to see it close.

  • Anon

    This was poorly run and promoted. Not surprised at all.

    • cpk

      It was, which is strange considering how much experience they had with these things. Maybe the location too?

      • Anonymous

        management would say they were getting great PR but you could never really find any of said PR (one article about the April return).

        complete lack of marketing on the part of management, even while most vendors did their best to spread the word via fb, twitter, instagram, etc.

  • selling used stuff from thrift shops at new retail prices didn’t work out??

    • Yeah, I get that it’s nice to have it all in one place, but I would rather go thrifting myself than pay some absurd markup to have someone else do it for me.

  • alpinepaq

    The number of vendors this year was not going to sustain it as a place where one could come, linger, and would return to.
    The lot itself was always uninviting – an uneven moonscape of crumbled pavement. Even if I was inclined to stay to eat/drink, the setting, especially under the summer heat, couldn’t be less inviting. Contrast that to the Fort Greene location in BK, where they use a big schoolyard, which has steps for sitting, some shade trees at the periphery, etc.
    I highly agree with Anon re: “go big or go home” – this had to be large and dynamic. Integrating a farmers market concept would be great, kids activities also a good idea – anything to get people to linger longer.

    • Anon

      +1 for comment about uneven moonscape of crumbled pavement.

      I get that they don’t want to invest much more in a lot that will be dug up in 2 years. It just adds to the interesting contrast of yuppies drinking $8 craft beer and $5 pickles at a flea market to buy antique/hipster junk on crumbled pavement to take back to their $2500/month one bedroom apartments. Obviously there were not enough of these people to make the business work.

      Good luck to Union Market on their attempt if they go forward.

  • Anonymous

    Union Kitchen put out a tweet listing an event at this space and it is co-sponsored by Distrct Flea so its probably safe to say that they are taking over at least some weeks.

  • Bruno

    Rats. Only just discovered it. Great place to take pictures! *Oh vell.*

  • TacoPants

    What a bummer, but not surprising. After being consistently blown away in the fall by the variety/quality of vendors, we went back a few weeks ago and there were about 1/4 the number of stands and a bunch of people walking around wondering what the hell happened. Too bad, wonder if vendors dropped them or they just didn’t promote themselves as aggressively

  • sarah

    nooooo!!! i dunno, i went most weekends i was in town, and always had a good time – i’ve picked up some really cool jewelry and items, and have had some good snacks. always liked bringing visitors too. really hope to see it show up again in another form…or would LOVE to see union kitchen do a smorgasburg type deal…


  • Anonymous

    I went to this last Fall and it was pretty awful. There were like 10 vendors, and four food places. There were maybe 25 people milling around. I guess, based on the other comments here, it was an off day? I think NW core is in need of an Eastern Market-like place, but I don’t think this place was the answer.


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