Local vendors and Isla Vista shoppers gathered in Little Acorn Park on Sat., March 5 for the fourth I.V. Open Market, a trendy, new flea market-inspired movement hosted by University of California, Santa Barbara third-year art major Senga Park.
“I started the Open Market completely on my own as a pet project during my second year,” Park said. “I was surprised to see it blow up in popularity like it has.”
Inspired by her love for second-hand shops, Park hosts and coordinates the quarterly space to offer a thrift store vibe in the heart of I.V., catering to college students looking for discounted items. She personally fronts the $200 rental charge and collects a nominal fee from each vendor to cover it.
Though past markets have hosted vendors toting a menagerie of items similar to the chaotic slew of clothing, technology and random odds and ends on the Free and For Sale Facebook page, Senga aimed to make this market different.
“I’m switching it up this time,” Park said, “by focusing almost exclusively on local artists and performers rather than people selling clothes, because I’m an artist myself and I want to get my fellow artists’ names out there.”
The market, with over 15 vendors, appeared to be an Etsy shop brought to life as UCSB students sold handmade jewelry, clothing and art.
This was a first time for many to sell at the Open Market. For Gabriel Cárdenas, a fourth-year art and sociology double major, the market space is as much a place to earn a bit of extra cash as it is a space to connect with the community.
“I try to create art that has something to say, that creates dialogue, especially to give voices to marginalized communities,” Cárdenas said. “This market gives me a chance to talk about all that with other people, and to just kind of display my art and hang out.”
Cárdenas’ acrylic and oil paintings, one of which he was finishing up on the spot while chatting with interested buyers, were one of many in a sea of equally eye-catching items. Gretchen Horbol, a second-year environmental studies major, sold hand-knitted scarves and bralettes in the tent adjacent to Cárdenas, while third-year environmental studies major Sydni Baker, a little less protected by the rain, displayed her collection of handmade beaded bracelets.
“I actually started this last year to fundraise for a volunteer trip I’m taking this spring break to Costa Rica,” Baker said. “And I’m selling today because I just booked a trip to Ireland for the summer.”
Vendors were accompanied by the Santa Barbara Soundwaves, a local Santa Barbara a capella group and the well-known “elote man” of Pasado and Trigo, whose appearance at the market attracted many.
Though attendance was dampened slightly by the rain, Park was happy to see that vendors were willing to stick it through.
“It’s honestly a bit slow, but it’s still great having everyone out here,” Park said. “And thank god for the elote man. He’s definitely pulling people through.”