HISTORY: since 1983
The Market has been operating continuously for 30 years under the management of DMM partner Tom Rall, who still sells vintage photography, maps and contempary art pottery here. Rall founded The Flea Market at Eastern Market in 1984 around the North Hall of Eastern Market,, under an agreement with Market 5 Gallery, then the North Hall tenant, The market expanded to the Hine School in 1993 and has continuously operated there for the past 20 years.
In 2009, the District of Columbia assumed control and management of Eastern Market, severing the contract of Market 5 Gallery and thus Rall’s sublease for sidewalk vending at Eastern Market on Sundays.
The Flea Market, which boasted on its 3rd year of operations that it had exhibitors from 5 states, now hosts exhibitors from 5 continents. Though not the largest flea market, it is arguably one of the most diverse in the nation. The Flea Market features arts, crafts, antiques, collectibles, and imports from around the world. Exhibitors are extremely knowledgeable of their wares and many actually make their products.
The flea market has been a turning point in the development pattern of Capitol Hill. When it opened, Eastern Market was closed and the streets were deserted on Sundays. Due in large part to the foot traffic created by the flea market, Eastern Market is now a major destination for locals, area residents and tourists. What once was an under utilized public space on Sundays, Rall turned into a contributing element of an economic revitalization that realtors and guides call the “heart of Capitol Hill”.
Housing values have skyrocketed, area stores and restaurants are crowded, surrounding businesses are thriving. Indeed, a key reason that there’s such interest and value in developing the Hine parcel is because of the social and economic impact the weekend markets have had on the location.