Since everybody interprets things differently we felt that it might be helpful to explain our market day set up a little bit more explicitly before the season begins.
For some of you veterans this might be about as useful as explaining how to take a bath, but for any new vendors this could potentially eliminate some explanation come market day morning.
Even if you already know the drill as well as your nightly bath time ritual, there are a few tidbits below that we would like you to take note of.
OVERALL LAYOUT EXPLANATION
(It will be helpful to first review our typical market map back on the vendor info page before reading below)
We arrive very early and try to have the lawn 'flagged off' by 7:15AM on market day. We ask vendors not to arrive before that time to allow for our setup process to happen uninterrupted and in a timely manner. So, if hypothetically you were the first vendor to arrive, here is what you'll see:
Zooming in to the scale of a single row...
So vendors choose any available space they want within the flagged out layout and here is what is ends up looking like by 10am! Handsome aye?
So we ask that you try to get your tent as tight to your next door neighbors as possible and have two of your four tent posts as close to an orange flag as possible. If you do those two things we will have straight and orderly rows as well as free and clear aisles for cash-carrying shoppers.
There are a handful of things that many vendors innocently do that are somewhat problematic for the market as a whole that we want to put in perspective:
1) Don't align their tent within the parameters of the flags. As mentioned above, if you are setting up correctly, you will have your back two tent posts AT an orange flag. If you do that your tent will be parallel with the rest of the market, not encroaching on the walk aisle, and you are ready for another vendor to set up next to you properly.
2) Take over a large area while setting up. Please try your best to first set up your tent and then work within your tent footprint and in the aisle space in front of your tent. Vendors should be able to set up right next door without asking you to move things. By having carts and boxes, etc sitting next to your tent while you set up sometimes results in other vendors things the space is taken and then by 10 am it is a void.
3) Don't weigh down their tent. We take this extremely seriously because we have seen tents go flying on many occasions. We want to make sure that the flea is safe for both vendors and shoppers and getting crushed in the face with a flying EZ Up falls into the category of 'Unsafe'. Wind can roll in quickly and many of the surrounding buildings can force wind to do funky things. PLEASE bring appropriate weights. Weights are only useful if they are a pain to carry from your car. Below is a PERFECT example of a weight that does what it showed up to do. It holds down the tent AND doesnt puncture the grass.
4) Hurt the lawn while loading in and out. Get a nice cart! While this is more of a helpful suggestion than anything, we really want to avoid vendors dragging good across the grass. Although the lawn is already in horrible shape this year, we want to be as gentle on it as possible. Thousands of dollars are spent each year trying to repair the turf and we want to be responsible for as little of that damage as possible. Having a small impact will increase our chances of Washington Park ALWAYS being the home of the flea. See the photo below for an extremely useful cart with rubber tires that is also pretty gentle on the grass. Carts with tiny wheels leave very significant marks on the grass that we would love to avoid. Most importantly, a nice cart is going to save you blood, sweat, and tears at the end of the day.
5) (POSSIBLY THE MOST IMPORTANT) Forget about their vehicle! During set up, vendors typically unload from either Elm or Race Streets. Please note that TECHNICALLY these are no parking zones but only once have we had the police try to give someone a ticket. We ask that you PLEASE move your car as quickly as possible from those streets. Doing some mutually benefits all vendors by freeing up space for others. It is not uncommon for vendors to disregard their vehicle once they get to their tent and they just start fully setting up. We need you to wait to start setting up until your car is in it's final destination. Much of this loading zone is also where food trucks need to be and leaving your car sit hurt those businesses as well.
If you plan to leave your vehicle in the loading zone during set up, we ask that you please leave a note on your dash with your vendor name and phone number.
On a similar subject, please keep your vehicle inside the white streetcar line. If your mirror or tire is over that line, the streetcar will not pass and will sit there and honk it's horn. This can also result in a hefty ticket in some cases. Double parking in the streetcar route is a big No-No.
6) Leave behind a hassle for others. Please do not leave any trace behind at your vendor space and if your mirror breaks, or your tent implodes, we ask that you bring any major 'trash' items home with you. Leaving a mangled pop up tent sitting next to a standard park garbage can puts an unreasonable burden on the park staff and does not reflect well on the flea.
7) Show up late and grumpy. We absolutely understand if something unexpected happens the morning of the market and you arrive later than you wanted. Many times that unexpected something can make you grumpy (also understandable) and isn't great for business. While we get that, please try your best to not take these things out on other vendors, us, or any park staff that you encounter. There have been quite a few instances of vendors arriving at about 10am and popping their tent up in a random place on the lawn, and then acting very upset when they are asked to move. This impacts the flow of shoppers and visibility of other vendors. We will absolutely find you a space, but please try to respect to overall process.