On Friday June 2, the first Isla Vista Open Market of 2017 welcomed shoppers to Little Acorn Park for a fun and relaxing time of community exploration. Curious observers could find students selling a variety of secondhand goods and homemade crafts in this unique take on the classic outdoor flea market. The market was hosted by its creator, Senga Park, a fourth year Art major. From the impressive turnout of vendors, one could see that the event was a success. Stalls and mats lay sprawled across the space, and the whole area was interspersed with a slew of racks and tables with goods.
“When I first saw this event on Facebook, I immediately wanted to get involved because it’s a good way to make money and to sell your stuff locally to people at a good price, what with college, textbooks and all that stuff. It’s affordable, you know, and about as fair trade as it gets,” said Jordyn Napier, third-year History and Religious Studies major. Napier, her sister Devyn, and friend Julia Flores took the opportunity to set up shop in a corner of the park.
They set out a full assortment of clothing, shoes, and accessories to entice prospective customers. “Mainly we’re just relaxing, talking to people, and planning to get pizza later. It’s really enjoyable, to say the least. It’s really a casual and laid-back experience,” Napier said.
In addition to the convenience that the event offered to customers looking for less-expensive and used goods, the I.V. Open Market allowed visitors to support local artists. The market offered an eclectic selection of handmade items that ranged from original artwork, jewelry, and custom-made wallets. One stall presented a neat array of jarred, homemade tea blends concocted by Daanish Kuulkarni, who has become one of the market’s biggest fans after he contacted Park a year ago to sell his original blends.
“I’ve been coming every chance I get,” said Kuulkarni. “It offers me a platform, my tea-making started as a hobby, but the I.V. Open Market motivated me to be more creative with my teas and to get them out there. I also think it’s just a really interesting way to sell things—it’s a lot more successful when people have a chance to see what they’re buying in person. It’s a nice way for families to spend the day, for artists to sell their stuff—it adds a lot of character to I.V.”
Despite the event’s success, Park voiced her uncertainty towards the market’s future. As a fourth year, she graduates in June and has extensively searched for a successor to carry on her project.
“I’m hoping that it continues after I graduate. It is a lot of work, and I need someone who’ll put in the effort, you know. If anyone wanted to come up to me and say, ‘Yeah, I want to keep this going, I want this to be part of IV tradition,’ then I’d be more than willing to help them with the process and walk them through it,” said Park.
Managing an event like this one is no easy task. Senga faced numerous obstacles to legitimize the event. After she initially turned to on-campus resources for funding, Senga eschewed the traditional route of acting through student organizations and co-ops. Instead, she directly reached out to the Isla Vista Recreation & Park District to rent out the space. After so much time and energy was spent to make the Open Market a reality, Park hopes that it will become a mainstay in I.V.
“I.V. is such a tight-knit community. It’s nice to have something like this in the park. There’s a lot of foot traffic here, and you see these people bringing their friends, and the local vendors talking to each other. They’ll sell to and buy from other vendors. Not just vendors, but people from the community coming out to spend their time here and developing connections with one another. It’s a nice sub-community of people we’ve got going on here,” said Park.