We talked with event co-organizer and North Olmsted resident Cathy Van Schoor to learn more about the newest addition to North Olmsted’s summer shopping scene. Markets are scheduled for July 21, August 11 and September 15 from 9:00am-3:00pm in North Olmsted Park.
How did the Westside Flea come about? How did the idea for locating in North Olmsted arise?
Cathy: There was a need for an affordable event for vendors to showcase their items on the westside of Cleveland. The first two years we were located on Crocker Rd in Westlake. The property that we used was sold. We were told we could use the parking lot but not the lawn area. So our search began. 2 of the 3 founders of the event are from North Olmsted so we thought, “Let’s see if we can do it in our hometown”.
I especially want to recognize Michelle Swetland and Becky Vranesevic, my partners in organizing this event. The City administration has also been very helpful and welcoming along with the Arts Commission. We appreciate the cooperation and getting to know the people involved.
What can guests expect at each Flea?
Cathy: Our free family friendly event has a lot to offer. Start the morning out with yoga by the gazebo. Then you can shop over 100 vendors. Take a break for lunch from one of 6 food trucks offering food, ice cream and drinks. Pick up some snacks, pastries, popcorn, fudge, for a snack later. Listen to live music while getting a henna tattoo. For the little ones we have a face painter, balloon artist at no cost to the family. We also have giant games and it is all located right by the playground. The friendly alpacas will be with us all season. Stop by and get a selfie.
Our vendors offer a great selection of items at all price points such as: jewelry, refinished furniture, bath and body items, artwork, pet items, candles, baby items, home decor, jams and jellies, plants, clothing, antiques, signs, wood carvings and fresh produce. We also offer the opportunity for local charities to set up to get their message out. This is a great venue for local food manufacturers to get their products out to the masses. We also have local authors promoting their books.
A big part of our events include giving back. Each Westside Flea we have a vendors raffle. Each vendor donates an item valued at $10 or more. People attending can buy raffle tickets for $1 each. They walk around to the vendors and if their ticket matches the vendor they exchange the ticket for the gift. All money raised from the raffle goes to the chosen charity. We also collect non perishable food items for local food pantries. When you donate you receive a free Westside Flea tote bag.
Our fleas are pet friendly as long as the dogs are on a leash. We also have a shuttle van for those who park in our overflow parking lots.
How many vendors do you typically book for each event? What is the best way for interested vendors to get in touch with you?
Cathy: This year we are scheduling 100 or more talented creative vendors. To reach us for more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our Facebook page or call me at 440-539-0662.
How many local North Olmsted vendors have you worked with since moving to the city?
Cathy: We encourage vendors from all over to apply. I believe for July we have 5 vendors from North Olmsted. We certainly would like to see more North Olmsted residents join us.
What are some important tips or tricks that you have learned as the Flea continues to grow?
Cathy: We continue to learn and adapt to new ideas as our events grow. The one tip we use is, to try and prepare for anything that may pop up. Also to treat our vendors and attendees as we would like to be treated. To offer all price points so everyone feels included. We make it a point to make the day about having fun and getting together with friends and creative vendors.
What is next for the Flea as you look ahead?
Cathy: We are always looking for new ideas, new ways of improving. Improving for the people who attend and also for our valued vendors. We want to continue to bring a large variety of vendors to one location. We have been approached to partner with others for some exciting opportunities for the future and are looking into those possibilities.