Weekend nights in downtown Gainesville are typically loud and crowded — people fill the street and there’s not an empty parking spot in sight.
This Friday, it wasn’t the typical scene. Northwest Second Street found itself lined with sportscars and local vendors. Packed shoulder to shoulder, attendees waded through the crowd browsing records, handmade jewelry and unique art by local vendors.
How Bazar shut down Northwest Second Street for its new storefront’s grand opening block party Jan. 14.
Adorned with the store’s vintage clothing, the store was crammed with hundreds of attendees as vendors filled the streets. How Bazar’s new location — a large, warehouse-style event space with lounge areas, wall-to-wall clothing displays and a bar — is located at 60 SW Second St.
The Gainesville-based vintage fashion and lifestyle outlet featured DJs hosted by record label Dion Dia, a car show, a first-time fashion show and a skating competition hosted by Samurai Skate from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Hundreds packed closely together near the downtown parking garage. With hip-hop music blaring from a raised stage and attendees showing off their best winter wear, temperatures dropped to the 50s as the cold night ensued.
How Bazar is a Gainesville-based vintage clothing and lifestyle brand. Focused on ethical consumption, the brand is worker owned — ownership is split between five Gainesville artists.
Before the block party, the store was housed in the Seagle Building on University Avenue, often hosting night markets and silent discos.
The block party dwarfed past How Bazar events. In size, scale and festivities offered, the event was a first of its kind for the brand.
Red carpet in the parking garage
How Bazar hosted its first ever fashion show to showcase local styling talents.
How Bazar and 14 other stores styled the models in aesthetics ranging from streetwear to vintage and upcycled looks.
Set to a hip-hop playlist, volunteer models walked red carpets stretching from the entrance of the Downtown Parking Garage to the street.
Audience members looped around the carpet runway and peered down from the upper levels of the garage.
Jordan Ortiz, a 22-year-old server and aspiring model, introduced the show. After moving to Gainesville in late 2019 from Deltona, he was invited by How Bazar to direct and curate the fashion show.
Ortiz emphasized the unprecedented scale of Friday’s block party.
“Tonight we got five different things that should all be its own one,” Ortiz said. “So tonight has just been amazing — so many different people came out.”
Vintage wheels and modern cruisers
The fashion show wasn’t the only new addition to How Bazar’s event repertoire — the block party hosted a car show for the first time ever.
Car owners showed off their rare, vintage and modern sports cars. Parked alongside the curb, attendees got up close and took pictures with the unique vehicles.
For Steven Rodriguez, a 24-year-old lineworker who curated and organized the car show, the How Bazar block party served as a way to inspire others to participate in the city's growing car scene.
“For tonight, this might give people motivation to come out more and bring their cars out more,” Rodriguez said. “Once they see all these nice cars, it motivates them to bring out their cars and build them even better and maybe even get a chance to be in the show next time.”
The displayed cars’ owners hailed from Gainesville, Jacksonville, Ocala and other parts of north central Florida.
Rodriguez parked his own silver, four-door 1985 Mercedes 190 II. The How Bazar car show was one of few Rodriguez hosted; however, he was pleased to see the show was received with excitement.
“Everybody’s loving it. I keep asking everybody that I put in the show…if you’re enjoying it. Of course, they’re all very hyped and very proud…that they were chosen to be in the show,” Rodriguez said.
Contact Aurora Jimenez Castro at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @aurora_rjcx.