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Feminist Flea Market moves online

Photo courtesy of Sybil and Sage

It’s much bigger than your ordinary flea market.

Both in physical size and with the causes it supports, the Feminist Flea Market has grown by leaps and bounds since it was created just a few years ago by East Passyunk resident Rebecca Aronow. And it’s momentum wasn’t going to be stopped by a pandemic. It just adapted to its current environment by migrating online.

The popular event, which is usually hosted by House Cat Presents at various places in the city including the Bok Building, is creating a growing presence with an online market.

The next will be held from Feb. 1-7 at FeministFlea.com, featuring more than 60 local vendors, who will debut limited-edition items just in time for Valentine’s Day. The market will support Philadelphia Red Umbrella Alliance and Project SAFE’s Philadelphia Sex Worker Relief Fund. Aronow is hoping this Feminist Flea Market will piggyback on a successful online trial in November.

“We used to do this in person and it was a space for the community to gather and support local artists, small businesses and also raise money for important mutual aid or social justice causes in the city,” said Aronow, who owns House Cat Presents. “Since COVID, we transitioned to doing it virtually. We’re trying to keep the same community feel while being online.”

November’s virtual market raised $7,000 for Philadelphia community fridges, by featuring artists who are marginalized by gender, including women, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people, with priority to makers who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color. The flea market attempts to help local small businesses and sellers make money and gain exposure when both avenues have been restricted during the pandemic.

“I know it’s convenient to do last-minute shopping on Amazon or somewhere where you get that instant gratification,” Aronow said. “But knowing you’re supporting someone and something they love to do and (the money is) actually going into a real person’s pocket, it’s super important, especially right now.”

Shoppers can expect everything from limited-edition candles, handmade jewelry, live plants and felt flower bouquets, vintage clothing, homemade beauty products and much more.

“A lot of vendors are making exclusive event-specific items,” Aronow said. “Once it sells out at the market, that’s it, which I love, knowing I’m getting something from a real person and a real artist that they made special for this time.”

To shop, there’s a $3+ suggested “entry fee,” with 100% of proceeds going to Philadelphia Red Umbrella Alliance and Project SAFE’s Philadelphia Sex Worker Relief Fund. Aronow said these causes have lacked funding and attention and are in need even more because of the pandemic.

Photo courtesy of Modest Transitions

“The government has not stepped up to help most people, especially people at the intersections of marginalized identities and jobs that are criminalized,” Aronow said. “Those people aren’t able to access the same unemployment benefits of COVID-relief programs that other people are able to access. There are a lot of things out there making it hard for people to survive right now.”

For each $3 donation, shoppers can also enter into a raffle bundle of their choosing. Entries are unlimited.

All orders from the Feminist Flea Market include free shipping. Aronow said delayed mail by the United States Post Office should not deter customers from buying local. She suggests printing a photo of the purchase to give to a significant other on Valentine’s Day so they know it’s coming. Shopping will be easy, as all flea market items from all vendors will be listed in one place on FeministFlea.com.

“This time everything is going to be on the website store,” Aronow said. “So you can just go scroll through hundreds and hundreds of items. It’s really exciting to have something so accessible to shop from so many local people at once.”

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