Flea Market Barcelona

Barcelona | | 05/12/2017

On occasion of Flea Market Barcelona’s 10th birthday, we spoke to Mark, one of the founders, about how the project developed into one of the city’s favourite monthly events.

Could you tell me a bit about how Flea Market Barcelona started out?

We started organising markets in the basement of a bar near our flat in El Raval, Barcelona. A flatmate was moving away and wanted to get rid of some stuff, so that was all the excuse we needed. We had about ten stalls of friends at the first market, we played some records and had some drinks. We carried on doing the market each month at the same venue for about a year. We eventually outgrew it and it was natural to take advantage of Barcelona’s agreeable weather to start organising outdoor events. We now deal with about 400 sellers each month at several locations in and around the city.

How did it develop into several different markets?

After we had established a solid infrastructure and had built up a good amount of contacts, people started getting in touch with us to collaborate. We’re always open to working with different entities in new parts of the region. As well as second-hand events, we have started to collaborate with record fairs, notably with the Independent Label Market from the UK and Crate Diggers from the USA.

How has Barcelona developed over the past 10 years in terms of independent, community-led initiatives like yours?

Markets like ours have multiplied in the ten years that we have been active, but they still don’t have the institutional and popular support that similar events enjoy in the UK or France, just to give a couple of examples. We are not subsidised and are constantly struggling to be able to offer normal market conditions like a bar and food stalls.

I saw on your blog that you were recommending a talk on zero waste in Barcelona. How else are you engaging with projects similar to yours that promote responsible consumerism and sustainability?

We feel that second-hand shopping is a win-win. People enjoy shopping, and by visiting peer-to-peer events like ours, they can find original or vintage pieces at a fraction of the cost. The carbon footprint is reduced dramatically in the case of this type of commerce. What’s more, we work in areas where unemployment is often quite high, so our participants have come to depend on the income that they can generate in markets like ours. We frequently visit other second-hand markets and try to help promote similar initiatives through our social media accounts.

How do you see Flea Market developing in the future?

We’re delighted with the number of markets we’ve been able to organise this year, and hope we can consolidate our calendar in the coming years. We’d like to be able to employ more people to help with the day-to-day organisation and promotion of the markets, and hopefully, attract corporate or public funding to support our work. We’ve recently started a series of podcasts through which we share the second-hand records we have discovered at flea markets and thrift stores.

Why are projects like Flea Market important to the local community?

I think at a time when societies are increasingly in danger of divisions through politics, religion or class, markets such as ours are an organic opportunity to mix with people of different ages and backgrounds. We offer a chance for people to help themselves get by, or simply a day to hang out with close friends. We provide occasional work for people out of regular work through our program of collaborations. We’d also like to extend an invitation to organisers of similar events from other cities or countries to come and spend some time working with us by way of a work exchange.

To consult upcoming events organised by Flea Market Barcelona, click here.

Photo by Flea Market Barcelona