The 20 to 30 mph winds and temperatures that hung around the mid-to-high 50s were not enough to keep dozens of vendors from selling to the Gainesville community Sunday.
The dismal weather couldn’t stop the hundreds of customers from perusing the racks of retro merchandise at the Florida Vintage Market either.
Event organizer Ray Gazzelli canceled the event after the National Weather Service issued a wind advisory early Sunday morning for an area including Gainesville.
However, about 20 to 30 vendors stayed to sell their collections.
As 29-year-old Orlando vendor Hero Claude put it: “We’re here. F–k it. Why not?”
The market started in 2018 as a free, monthly community pop-up event and now brings more than 60 vendors to traveling markets in Gainesville and Orlando.
Sunday’s event was held in a grassy open space at the Midpoint Park and Eatery in Gainesville, with clothing hanging on racks arranged in rows.
Vendors sold shirts, jackets and pants featuring old-school designs, embroideries, classic bands and musicians, throwback sports logos and other miscellaneous pop culture references.
Though the event usually features tents, the wind made setting them up impossible, said Tyler Miller, a 23-year-old vendor from Orlando. The only structures in sight that could withstand the wind were the park’s three stationary food trucks — Mexi Cocina, Plantology and Zen Asian Street Eats.
The blustering wind remained strong into the afternoon, with gusts forceful enough to occasionally topple racks of clothing and carry away unsecured objects.
Orlando vendor Brent Palmer, 20, was one of many sellers struggling against the difficult weather.
“Man, it was crazy. Everyone’s clothes were going everywhere,” Palmer said. “The wind was really bad.”
Palmer, who was decked out in a retro Miami Hurricanes jacket and sweatpants, decided to stay anyway out of tenacity.
“I’ve experienced so much worse. It’s just the risk that we take coming out here — either the weather’s nice or it’s not,” Palmer said. “I’m never one to just give up right away. I gotta try first, I gotta give myself a chance.”
For some, the decision to stay was logistical. Miller, whose interview was briefly interrupted when one of his racks of clothes was blown over, was too far from home to call it quits.
“I mean a lot of us are from Orlando, so we drove two hours and we just got here and just set up and then they were like, ‘Oh, it’s over.’ So we were like, ‘Aw hell nah, we’ll just stay and see what happens,’” Miller said.
Miller, who has sold merchandise at the Florida Vintage Market since its founding in 2018, attributed the success of the market to the growing popularity of vintage culture.
“We used to have days where we’d rarely see 30 people or 40 people, and now we’re seeing that in the first hour, so it’s really good,” Miller said.
Among the hundreds of buyers were many UF students and Gainesville residents. For 21-year-old Caroline Davidson, it was the uniqueness of the products that charmed her.
“It’s fun to explore and find things. I feel like everybody is kind of in it for that kind of thrill of finding something that’s unique,” she said. “It’s not really stuff you can go to Target and buy.”
Davidson also cited the vibrant community of creators and connoisseurs as an essential aspect of vintage culture.
“There’s lots of really cool artsy people that get to show off their work here and stuff that they’ve curated, so that’s kind of fun to see,” she said.
Vintage culture isn’t only about aesthetics — it’s also about sustainability. Reused merchandise, like the items at the Florida Vintage Market, offer a more sustainable alternative to buying brand new, mass-produced items.
This and similar events provide shoppers with an opportunity to participate in sustainable practices that will shape the future of consumption, said Hero Claude, one of the vendors.
Tyler Miller credited sustainability as a main reason why the market’s popularity is on the rise.
“Recycling and everything is super big now, and everyone wants to do their own part, and I feel like this is a way to do that,” he said. “It’s just more relatable for people instead of giving money to a big corporation that’s just gonna pump new things out all the time.”
The next Florida Vintage Market in Gainesville will be held on Sunday, Feb. 6 from noon to 5 p.m. at the Bo Diddley Plaza.
Ben Crosbie is a contributing writer for The Alligator. Follow Ben at @benHcrosbie.