Grassroots market elevates and connects Chicago’s young entrepreneurs


Malcolm Taylor

Vendor Carli Martinez of Protective Pieces sells her handmade crystal jewelry to Get Flea Market attendees.

An Ngo, City Life Editor

Teenagers dressed in colorful, eclectic outfits wander in and out of the brick building. They’ve come from all over Chicago to spend their day at the Get Flea Market event on March 13, at 1520 W. Fulton Market.                                                                                 

Get Flea Market started as a couple of friends in a backyard selling thrifted clothing but has since grown into events that attract vendors from all over Chicago and its suburbs who hope to network and sell their vintage clothes, jewelry, art and more. Founded by Sami Lapage in her senior year at Lake View High School, Get Flea Market has become a thriving community for young people to network and grow their businesses. 

Ms. Lapage, after having been adopted, is grateful for the stability that allowed her to grow and develop after spending a part of her childhood in instability. In running Get Flea Market, Ms. Lapage hopes to give back and provide others a space to flourish.

“When I make this space, it is for each vendor to literally have a safe space where they can grow and feel that their dreams are being made to fruition,” Ms. Lapage said.

One vendor, Imani Shamsuddin of Ascension Pieces, was grateful that Get Flea Market acts as a hub for young people to come sell their wares and find support from a large community.

“I think it’s very important, and I just have immense gratitude to be a part of it,” Imani said, “and be able to be a young artist with my young business and my small business.”

The events don’t just provide for vendors a space and customers to sell to but connect people from all over Chicago. Mateo Baker, a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he learned about the event through a flier posted on his campus and decided to come sell his vintage clothing.

“I met some really dope people already,” Mr. Baker said. “Obviously, you know, selling clothes is a good thing. But you know, I think networking and making connections is better.” 

Eli Branson, who frequents Get Flea Market events to meet people and shop, has noticed a collaborative energy between attendees.

“Straight networking. Just feels like there’s strings going from every different person, and they’re all just learning from each other,” Mr. Branson said.

Ms. Lapage has high hopes for the future of Get Flea Market and wants to continue building from the momentum it’s experiencing.

“In short term, in the next month, I want it at least four times bigger than this, maybe like 200 vendors in a month,” Ms. Lapage said. “And then for short term, as in summer wise, I’d say like as big as Lollapalooza. I want it fast and big.”