Beyond chain stores and cupcake eateries, you’ll soon find a more personal shopping experience on the corner of M and Potomac streets at Artists & Fleas, a Brooklyn-based artisanal marketplace opening at the end of March.
The Georgetown marketplace will move into the old Dean and Deluca building, which closed Aug. 1. Customers can expect to find several products sold by independent artisans from jewelry and vintage clothing to handmade candles and housewares, co-founder Ronen Glimer said.
Glimer said the market will solely operate on weekends from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. to start but will open on weekdays in the summer.
Started in 2003 in Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, by Glimer and Amy Abrams, Artists & Fleas was created as a building community between artists and entrepreneurs who could test their products without needing to officially launch a business, Glimer said.
“We wanted to create a place where we could take care of a lot of the heavier lifting associated with being in business, quote-unquote, or trying things out and creating a supportive community and a supportive environment where you would be surrounded by other like-minded individuals,” Glimer said.
Glimer is a marketer by trade, and Abrams’ background is in counseling psychology. Glimer said he grew up surrounded by his dad’s art gallery and his grandfather’s antique shop and Abrams’ mother was an “avid flea market goer,” which established both of their passions for artisanal goods.
In the early 2000s, the pair helped their friends who were artists and creators to sell their items and decided the “the feeling was ripe” to open Artists & Fleas, Glimer said.
“People want to shop,” Glimer said. “People want to discover, people want to be together. People want stuff and like stories. And if you can earn a living, doing things on your own terms. That’s amazing. And that’s why we exist.”
Glimer and Abrams said they have a connection to the real estate company Jamestown, which owns the Georgetown Park area where Dean & Deluca was located. The duo jumped at the opportunity to claim the space, he said.
“We had seen it a few years ago and sort of said, half-jokingly if that place ever becomes available, please let us know,” Glimer said. “And sure enough, here we are.”
With four New York locations and one in Los Angeles, Glimer said he wanted to expand the brand’s East Coast presence and found that D.C. had a balance of community and cosmopolitan stores.
“D.C. sort of has this alchemy as an urban center where there’s density, but there’s also a strong neighborhood,” Glimer said.
To be a part of Artists & Fleas, artists and entrepreneurs need to fill out an online application that demonstrates they “feel strongly about people having a hand in the creative and production process,” Glimer said. Candidates must provide social media links, a product description, a description of its production and an IRS form to be eligible to participate in the market.
Artists & Fleas will continue the age-old tradition of brick-and-mortar style shopping instead of selling products online, the co-owner said.
“People like to touch things, people like to hear the stories behind things, it’s OK for things to be messy,” Glimer said. “We exist as a place of experimentation and fun.”