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Randolph Street Market ~ Chicago Antique Market ~ Indie Designer Market ~ Modern Vintage Chicago ~ Fashion, Jewelry, Flea Market, Antique Shows
Randolph Street Market ~ Chicago Antique Market ~ Indie Designer Market ~ Modern Vintage Chicago ~ Fashion, Jewelry, Flea Market, Antique Shows
by Sydney Scarlata

Not even the nearly 90 degree heat could stop fairgoers from attending the Randolph Street Market July 28-29, located 1340 West Washington.

Weather is never an issue for those looking to find local, national and international treasures because of the Market's indoor and outdoor features. With over 200 vendors selling antiques, jewelry, clothing, furniture and food, there is something to satisfy everyone's needs.  Forgot cash? No problem, there is always a cash station outside Plumbers Hall and many vendors accept credit cards.

Tickets for the August 25-26 market are now available online for $8 or $10 at the door.

Outside, Igors Irbe rummaged through a cardboard box of local maps, one of many under his tent containing hundreds of vintage maps and books.

"This is my second year coming to the fair," Igors said. "It's very diverse and I just love Chicago. I focus on Architecture pieces and maps. I went to an estate sale once and came across several maps. I found more and more unique treasures. I love that each one is one of a kind and tells a history about the area. They are conversation pieces. They are visually interesting art pieces and they also tell a story.

"Around here I'm known as the 'map guy.' As a kid I was collecting and at one point I realized I had to start letting things go. I have some specific treasures of my own that I bring and if someone really wants to buy it, I am willing to give it a new home. I love finding customers who can treasure these items like I can."

For Antique Wholesalers Owner William White, antique fairs like the Randolph Street Market are among the only places where true human interaction flourishes. 

"I've been coming here since the very first show," William said. "It's a very good fair, I love the atmosphere. There's always a great crowd, it's well attended. We have a ball. I love that it's in the inner city and brings an international clientele. I've met people from Spain, German, France, you name it. Also, the vendors are all selling quality items.

Sitting in front of numerous framed prints and small sculptures, William remarked that he enjoyed visiting many of Chicago's attractions like the Taste of Chicago and the many museums.

"The people here are an eclectic group so I bring an eclectic group of items. I sell bronzes, lamps, furniture, sleigh bells – which have all sold today – prints and beads. I was a former art professor at University of Iowa, Iowa State and Saint Mary's in Minnesota. I love bronzes and that's what got me started in all of this.

"I love the interaction between people. These fairs are among the last places where there are truly face-to-face interactions. There is bartering and communication and the human touch. I personally like the Midas touch," He chuckles. "We're all just a band of gypsies that get together if you will. As long as I'm in love with what I'm doing, I'm happy. When it gets old, I'll know it's time to move on."

Among tables of old signs and wooden furniture Zap Proprietor William V. Rawski likes the convenience of the fair.

"This will be in 5th year coming to the fair," William said. "I love the atmosphere and the music. The food's good too – it's not your average fair food. I'm a Chicago-based company so it's nice that the fair is close to my shop. It's an opportunity to meet with other vendors and people from all over the world."

Located at 3611 S. Loomis Place, Zap Antiques and Props sells a variety of restaurant décor and design and construction props. According to the Chicago Tribune article on Zap, published August 18, 2010, Zap's is where "everything is found. Yes, everything — crammed into every corner, stuffed into every shelf, tucked above every ceiling slat, in the basement, in the attic, spilling from loading docks." William has rented many of his items out to restaurants and music artists, including Fuddruckers and The Tilted Kilt and R. Kelly and Kid Rock.

"I focus mainly on furniture, on funky cool items. I love signage and unusual pieces. The big signs are my specialty. I started collecting coin operating machinery 30 years ago and restoring them. I just started saving things from the dumpster and repurposing them. I buy most of my merchandise from other dealers. I don't go to auctions or house sales. I buy at markets from other vendors. I like the face to face interactions."

Sitting among his futuristic, one of a kind pieces, Artist Douglas J. Maccardini remarked that only recently has he considered himself "steam punk."

"Since the movement because popular, I've started calling myself steam punk," Douglas said. "I'm into Victorian Science Fiction. I find old 1900s medical, scientific parts and create science fiction pieces. I like to make things that can also be functional like lamps. Each item is individual and there is no way to replicate it.

"I love the fair, I think it's so well run. The staff is always on the ball. They are great communicators and really work hard to advertise the vendors. I love that at this fair, there are regulars. There are always one or two people I recognize from the last fair. It's fun because you meet people all over the Midwest. I have a store in Grand Rapids so it's a lot of fun to come into the city.

"I try to limit the shows that I do. I try to seek out my customers. I like Chicago because people here really like steam punk. I haven't really gotten into selling my work on eBay because I'm honestly happy selling face to face. There is something wonderful about personal communication. You get attached to a work of art, it's personal. I like to hand pieces over and see how happy it makes my customer."

Underneath the second largest tent at the Market (after Sally's Cabana), Carter Seibels Singh and her husband Aveesh mingled with customers over colorful beads, bright fabrics, detailed shoes and a medley of accessories from around the world.

"We love this fair! It's bloody fantastic," owners Carter and Aveesh of Woman Shops World agreed. "Everyone here is so enthusiastic and so much fun. It's crazy! The energy is great, almost contagious. Everyone seems to be dialed in to what we're selling – they get it. We're from North Carolina and we love the city vibe of the fair. It's more antique-y and more urban than our previous experiences. It has a younger vibe."

On her Etsy page where her merchandise can be found, Carter explains "As humans, we create boarders and name countries, but we are all one and the same. Woman Shops World is an extension of my love of travel, love of color, and love of the world."

"We sell a little bit of the world, like items from India, Africa, Thailand to name a few. We were originally in the bead business but we stumbled upon clothing, accessories and textiles. My husband's from India and when we were there once, we stumbled upon beads and glass jewelry and other amazingness! I just had to have so many of the things we saw! My husband asked me what I was going to do with it all and I said, 'I dunno, I'll sell it!' and then things snowballed from there. We have a warehouse and a brand new name, Gypsy Temple. We're still creating the website, but our goal is a sort of refined boho line. It's upscale gypsy.

"We travel so much that this business makes sense. We recycle ideas from different places and combine them. For example, we'll get material from Africa and send it to India and from there the local people can create something unique. We try to support local communities as much as possible. Our Swedish friend heads the project and we are on the marketing side of things. For instance, take these saris from Nepal. A group of women made these. For them, making these saris is their only source of income. We try and support communities like this as much as we can.

"We love color and Inspiration is everywhere – like look! Do you see that woman's hat?" Aveesh said, pointing to a customer's straw hat with a black sash. "We might replace that sash with a colorful Indian fabric here," displaying the rows of vibrant blue, green, purple, red and gold textiles.

"I think my favorite items today are the camel accessories," Carter said, picking up camel bells off a table adorned with a colorful camel back cover. "We stumbled across these items while we were travelling through a dessert area in India. I'm not sure what people will use this stuff for, but I thought it was incredibly fun and I just had to have it!"

More from Carter can be found on her blog, here.

Just down the aisle, Jewels in Bloom owner Jenni Holm fiddled with a leather bracelet in a simple booth filled with necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings. According to her website, Jenni sells "everything from simple charm necklaces to large collage pieces, all one of a kind."

"I've been coming to the fair for two years now," Jenni said. "Honestly, I love people watching. I love how busy this fair is and I've built up a clientele in Chicago, though I'm from Indiana. I think I fit right in. I redesign vintage and this is a vintage market. It just makes sense. It definitely has a fun atmosphere too because of the music and free cocktails.

"I started doing this stuff when I was pregnant and I picked it up as a hobby and now eight years later, here I am. I buy old jewelry and other material from antique shops and estate fairs. Then I take the pieces apart and redesign them. I definitely love Victorian style jewelry. Brass and silver materials are always fun to work with. I do custom designs as well. I work with customers with old jewelry and rework their pieces in a new and modern way."

To help the city's entrepreneurs, Randolph Street Market Organizers debuted the Shade Shack, a tent specifically for vendors selling their own products. Among the vendors were RefinDefined Designer Redgi Woods, Desiar Creative Thinker Jamal Robinson and Thai's Love Bomb nail station.

For Jamal, eyewear has always been his passion.

"We're a Chicago based brand and we design custom eyewear," Jamal explained while wearing a pair of his custom-made sunglasses. "This is our first collection to go to retail. I think it's an essential accessory because it accentuates what you're wearing. I was always that guy who wore sunglasses at night.

"I like to know what's going on in fashion and right now it's definitely a natural feeling, very eco-friendly. Our line is definitely modern vintage. We have four styles: classic, wayfarer, flattop and aviator and they all have wooden accents and temples. We're hoping to have different colors and styles by December and introduce our product to major retail chains like Nordstrom and Sacs.

"I love the fair! I love interacting with people. We're a small business and this is a great opportunity for us to market our product and tell our story. This fair brings an eclectic group of people from all over the city.

"I've always focused on marketing my product and networking. Initially, I didn't have enough money to market my product myself. The only way for me to market was to go to shows and get product endorsements from celebrities. It was a unique way to enter the market and gain relationships. For three years I was running around, chasing people and it was definitely worth it. It kept me passionate. It was thrilling and there was a challenge in connecting with people who could potentially wear my glasses. You know those sketchy guys in movies wearing the trench coat filled with knock off watches? That was me, except my coat was filled with glasses. Actually, Soulja Boy was our first endorsement. He's a very savvy businessman. He's fun and has a great team.

"Currently, I believe there's always a greater cause which is why we've partnered with Shades of Change. What can glasses do? A portion of the money we make goes toward our goal of building a well. Every little bit counts."

Standing behind her first line of nail polish, Thai expressed her excitement of having a nail stylist detail fairgoers nails with her custom line.

"I can't believe someone's using my polish in her nail designs today – it's incredibly exciting!"

After five years of photography, Thai became interested in lip-gloss design and eventually nail polish.

"I love color theory and expressing myself," Thai said. "I found that I could do that through lip gloss and that sort of evolved into nail polish. I learned from a friend who's a chemist how to produce the polish. I got inspired by the seasons and honestly I just wanted to create a fresh look. For example, one of my favorite colors here today is Lamborgreeni Nights, which is part of the six summer colors. I love fast cars and crazy bright colors so that's how I came up with this polish.

"For the future, I would love for the polish to become a household name. Something that fashionistas and risk-takers know. Currently the six-shade collection is being sold in two boutiques in Lincoln Park: Art Effect and Custom Hair Lounge. Every season a new collection will become available."
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