The Best of Flea and Fantastic Finds at Chicago's Vintage Garage

Located, literally, in a huge garage in Uptown, this show has it all: rare records for vinyl collectors, unusual and antique furniture, all shapes and styles of clothing, kicking jewelry, and the coolest vendors (and organizers) in the Midwest.

The Best of Flea and Fantastic Finds at Chicago's Vintage Garage

Photo by: Vintage5051 The Vintage Garage show in Uptown attracts about 75 to 100 vendors every month, says promoter Melissa Sands. And crowds. "Our biggest show this year was 2,200 people for the day."

If you’re a dedicated flea market shopper (and if you’re not, believe it when we tell you that you’re missing out), add this new show to your rummage haunts. Vintage Garage Chicago is the brainchild of Melissa Sands, a former super seller on eBay and co-owner of Vintage Promotions, the outfit that produces the show. She made the leap from virtual, where she sold everything from promo cars to jewelry, to running location shows — a crazy idea, she says. “Nobody’s starting any new shows right now. Other people, other shows, are dying. We’re insane.” 

But she couldn’t resist. Sands, a Chicago transplant via Detroit, got her feet wet running a few vintage shows with a buddy in Dallas before heading to the Midwest. When she found this “amazing, empty parking garage in a really cool up-and-coming neighborhood on the north end of the city,” it was the perfect slot for a stable, recurring venue. Why not fill it up with vintage and get buyers and sellers out and make it a happening space? She pitched the idea to the garage owner, commercial real estate businessman Al Klairmont, and got support from Alderman Harry Osterman in the 48th, who bicycled through the ward for a vintage-style ride, their very first show. 

It was a gamble that worked: Take a look the cool Flickr stream of flea shoppers posing and grinning with deals in hand. 

Fantastic Finds at  Vintage Garage in Uptown, Chicago

Photo by: Vintage5051 The days of collecting cookie jars are over, says Sands. People, especially the Millennials, "are finding things that are usable, wearable, decorative. That’s what’s hot."

The July 21 show blends two subcultures: rockabilly and tiki. Think 1950s, poodle skirts, plunging necklines, glassware with hula girls and Mai Tai mugs. “There are people that live it. They dress it. Their houses are decorated in it. You know — they all have tiki bars in their basements," says Sands. "And we find that our customer base is really hip and cool like that.”

You have more chances this summer to sift. There are upcoming shows on Aug. 18, Sept. 15 and Oct. 20. Want more? There are monthly Flash Sales on the company's Facebook page; they held one this past Tuesday for the rockabilly and tiki show. "It's a great way to integrate our Facebook fans into the experience and give them a preview of what is coming each month," Sands told us.

Vintage Garage, located at 5051 N. Broadway, between Foster and Argyle. Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on show dates. Admission $3. Bookmark and bring a big bag.



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