Vintage is back — now accompanied by face masks.
The Florida Vintage Market, a market for vintage vendors to sell their items to community members, returned to Gainesville Oct. 4 after an eight-month hiatus with only slight changes from its usual schedule. The monthly market is now enforcing social distancing and face masks after its reopening.
The smell of beer and straight-out-of-the-attic clothing encompassed the air as residents huddled under umbrellas to browse clothing racks. Twenty-five vendors gathered at the Cypress and Grove Brewing Company, located at 1001 NW 4th St., to share their products.
Although the turnout is lower than it used to be, many of the vendors moved most of their inventory online during the pandemic, so their finances have not been significantly impacted.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Gainesville in March, market organizer Ray Gazzelli decided to cancel the monthly event to prevent the spread of the virus. The market used to see more than 1,000 people, Gazzelli said. The Oct. 4 market only drew about 300 visitors.
Gazzelli said he decided to reopen when he noticed other organizers reopened their vintage markets, such as the Indie Flea Market, AUK Market, and Flashbacks Pop-up Market. He went and took note of the turnout and safety regulations before making his final decision.
The market is scheduled to happen bi-weekly throughout Florida, he said. One will be in Orlando on Oct. 18, and another Oct. 25 at the High Dive, located at 210 SW 2nd Ave.
Gazzelli said he’s planning the markets on a month-by-month basis. However, he hopes the market can remain open throughout the spring because it’s the market’s busy season. However, he added that he’s flexible in the event that the pandemic worsens.
“We are just going to do what we do best,” Gazzelli said. “Promote the companies that we enjoy doing business with.”
Staff members enforce the COVID-19 guidelines and manage the flow of the crowd, Gazzelli said. If vendors felt unsafe, he said he would refund their registration fee.
To Gazzelli, the biggest challenge was finding a location. He has hosted markets at Bo Diddely Plaza in the past, but it hasn’t yet reopened for events.
When Cypress and Grove Brewing Company agreed to host the outdoor market, Gazzelli offered 25 vendors from the canceled March event a spot Oct. 4. All vendors at the event were local Gainesville business.
“We try to curate some of the best local vendors that we feel fit our lifestyle,” Gazzelli said.
Mike Hogan, owner of vintage apparel company The Gallery, has been in the vintage business for three years. Hogan said the pandemic presented caused his online sales to skyrocket and allowed him to open a store in Jacksonville.
“We have small speed bumps here and there because it takes a big chunk of change to open a store,” Hogan said.
During the pandemic, Hogan branched out to different outlets, like Instagram, Depop and Poshmark, to sell his clothing. His online sales were a safety net to finally open his dream business.
“My dream is to have people come to enjoy what I’ve built and created, as a big, nostalgic closet type of thing,” he said.
Although the rain prevented Hogan from attending the market, he said he will be attending the next market. In the meantime, he is putting on his own markets at his Jacksonville store.
Ava Kaplan, an 18-year-old UF political science freshman, was hesitant to go many places during the last seven months. She went to the market because it was an outdoor, socially distanced event.
“Because there is so little going on in the world and in Gainesville in terms of fun activities, I wanted to take advantage of this outdoor market,” Kaplan said.
While shopping, Kaplan purchased two vintage t-shirts and a green rain jacket. One of the main reasons she wanted to attend the event, she said, was for the food vendors, which satisfied her craving with a cheese empanada.
“You can be around other people, but because everyone’s wearing masks and we are outdoors, it is responsible,” Kaplan said.