Oct 18, 2017: Flea Market Uncertainty (Again) Vol. 1


As has been the case off and on for several years, the future of Diverse Market Management's (DMM) popular Sunday Flea Market at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill is in uncertain transition, DMM President Michael Berman claimed today. 

Two recent communications with Berman prompted the uncertainty. One was contained in an email last week from the Development Manager for Eastbanc, Inc., which has been coordinating the new 700 Penn development where DMM signed a lease and pre-paid rent to relocate some of its market on C Street SE beginning in October. The relocation, originally projected for July, was subsequently pushed back until an expected occupancy before the end of this month. But the manager wrote: "We will make 11/5, but it will be an all-out scramble, including Sunday work to get it done. I wish I were still optimistic about meeting the prior Sunday but the rain has hurt us." 
The second was also an email, last Thursday, from Barry Margeson, Market Manager of Eastern Market, for the D.C. Department of General Services (DGS). Margeson wrote: "Attached please find the proposed execution copy of your license extension (the Third Amendment) for your review and signature. The Amendment extends the License to Operate for seven months"..." for managers of the Saturday and Sunday markets on the 300 block of 7th Street SE. The new rate is based on the findings of an MAI Certified Appraiser." 
Yesterday Berman responded, in part, for DMM: "The proposed new monthly rent (a whopping 52.5% rent increase) in the third Amendment extension of the License is based, presumably, on this appraisal's questionable conclusions.  We strongly object to this increase based on the following reasons.   

"First, this is a significant change of terms.  With only 2 weeks prior to expiration, we are being forced to absorb a significant financial impact, with no due process or timely notice.  A new rate with less than 30 days notice should not be part of an amendment to a license.  An amendment extension of a license should keep the rate the same.     
"Secondly, we reject the basis for the new price.  The appraiser recommendation is actually flawed.  With flawed input, the outcome is the wrong number and the inference that the spaces," (in the comparables) "are substantially similar in size, rent and amenities provided is thus way off base."  

Berman continued: "The license should offer a longer term than 7 months.  These upcoming 7 months are the worst weather months and the slowest vendor participation times of the year, with the exception of December.  "Most importantly, a rent increase creates a financial hardship on DMM.  Our only remaining alternative is to lay off staff which is not desirable when we add the C Street venue.  Further, to lay off staff would mean the loss of District resident jobs, which is also not desirable, either to us or the District of Columbia."

So, in short, The Flea Market at Eastern Market will continue to be located 10 am to 5 pm on 7th Street SE between C Street and Pennsylvania Ave. SE, on Sunday Oct 21 and on Sunday, October 29. The continuation after that is uncertain.  

Stay tuned for a newsletter next week where we hope to report a more positive update. 


A project to collect oral histories of the development and community impact of The Flea Market at Eastern Market, started by DMM Director of Communications Tom Rall in 1984, was announced recently by Shefa Benoit, an experienced oral historian. Calling the project "solely a labor of love," Benoit said she's "already started on the narratives of veteran vendors," following personal introductions from Rall, "and I'd like to add community voices."

Anyone interested in being interviewed for the project should contact Benoit directly. For more information on Benoit's work see her web site.  


Friday evening, 4 to 10 pm, October 20, at 4th and M Streets, SW will be the final MarketSW of 2017. A special musical agenda is part of the action amongst the varied exhibitors, food offerings and beer garden. "The World in Our City" Showcase will premier with performances sponsored by the community-forward collaboration of The Washington Performing Arts and Multiflora Productions. Get all the event information here.


Berna Rodman, a DMM exhibitor at both the flea market and The Downtown Holiday Market for several years, has opened Antiochia, a great new brick and mortar store at 760 C Street which you can visit on any trip to Eastern Market as it's located in the new development facing the location where the flea market will be soon. The store offers various textile products from centuries-old methods and ingredients. The towels are handwoven in Rodman's well-known textile town Denizli in Turkey.