The 2016 South End Open Market Kicks Off May 1
It’s that time of year again, when Sunday routines transform from Netflix binge-induced comas into sunny days of strolling up and down aisles of handmade goods while snacking on fare that’s nestled in recycled cardboard containers.
That’s right—South End Open Market season is almost upon us.
But this year, instead of setting up shop at a few different areas in the neighborhood known as SoWa, the market will open at a new location. On May 1, a revamped South End Open Market will debut at 375 Harrison Street, across from Ink Block.
New England’s largest open-air market will make itself at home in the the Tufts Health Science Campus parking lot every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until October 30, and will continue to offer all of the magical things that has made the market so well-loved since 2003.
The South End Open Market made the move across from Ink Block after a split with its landlord at SoWa. Since 2009, the components of the weekly bazaar—the arts market, vintage market, and farmer’s market—were divided among three locations: 450 Harrison Avenue, 460 Harrison Avenue, and 500 Harrison Avenue. This year, the market will function as one.
“I think that the bonus is having everybody in one location,” says Chris Masci, owner and founder of New England Open Markets, operator of the South End Open Market.
Masci says he would constantly field questions from visitors about where to find the market’s different parts.
“Even though we did our best to have signage around the three different locations, and we advertised it, people still didn’t get it,” he says. “They didn’t realize there were three components that made up the market.”
Now that all of the market’s vendors will be situated in a single location, Masci says the visitor experience will be more like what he originally envisioned—a festival-like atmosphere. And while navigating one large market might be easier for newbies, Masci adds that having all of the market’s components in one place is good for vendors, too.
“(The vendors) love the energy of having everyone in the same lot, and it really helps with their sales, too,” he says.
In October, South End Open Market jewelry vendor America Cutter told Boston she favored the move.
“In the past, being all divided or separated, customers would complain. I think the move is fantastic,” she said. “Now customers won’t feel like they’re missing out on anything.”
Many of the vendors from years past will return to the relocated market. Approximately 220 vendors will set up each week, consisting of artists, designers, crafters, farmers, food vendors, food trucks, and antique dealers. And yes—Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, Bon Me, and Union Square Donuts will be there to fuel the antique-shopping frenzy.
However, a new set of antique dealers and vintage vendors are slated for this year, too. Curated by Justin Pomerleau of Allston’s Oliver Best Vintage Markets, about 15 to 20 vendors will purvey antiques, vintage clothing, oddities, and other baubles. Pomerleau hasn’t sold his wares in the South End since he opened his vintage clothing store, Vivant Vintage, in June 2014.
“When we left the South End, it was a bummer to be so far away from that community because it’s a whole different crowd from Allston,” says Pomerleau. “People from Allston don’t make it out to the South End all that often, so I think we’re going to be bridging that gap.”
Oliver Best Vintage Markets has also been tasked with spearheading bringing local music talent to the market. Pomerleau often hosts Boston-based bands at POP Allston, and says he’s looking forward to making sure there’s “fun music to shop to.”
“It’s going to be amazing,” he says. “It’s going to be like a festival every week.”
Each Sunday, Traveler Street will be closed between Harrison Avenue and Washington Street to accommodate the market. In 2017, the South End Open Market will relocate one more time to Lot 5 of MassDOT’s Infra-Space 1 area beneath the I-93 overpass. There, new green space, public art, and a walkway along the Fort Point Channel are in the works.
The 2016 South End Open Market takes place Sundays, May 1-October 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at 375 Harrison Ave. For more info, visit newenglandopenmarkets.com.