This Saturday will be the last Cleveland Flea at Sterle’s for the foreseeable future, says founder Stephanie Sheldon.
“We are leaving Sterle’s so that we can put our heads together to come up with a better logistical solution for all of us,” Sheldon explains. “Our goal is always to provide the best experience possible for our vendors and shoppers.”
In a little over a year, the Flea has doubled in size, growing from 5,000 or 6,000 visitors per event to more than 10,000 shoppers at each of this year’s monthly flea markets. Sheldon points to the fact that the Sterle’s parking lot has only one entrance and exit for both shoppers and vendors. Also, vendors are being asked to shut down early so as to not interfere with Sterle’s Saturday night restaurant service.
“We’ve just outgrown the physical space — it’s a great problem to have,” says Sheldon. “The site can’t support the Flea in a way that works for both Sterle’s and us.”
The Flea will not end, says Sheldon, but its future location has not been determined yet. “We might roam around and support other parts of the neighborhood and city. Part of the reason we’re leaving Sterle’s is that they have announced other development projects there. One of the Flea’s goals is to spur development in the neighborhood, and we’ve already achieved that.”
Sheldon also is announcing the launch of two new markets, in addition to the Flea and the popular Sunday Market in Hingetown. The Night Market will be weekly pop-up style restaurant experience that will come to Tyler Village in August. The events will feature a rotating roster of culinary talent.
“We are working with local chefs and restaurants who might have a hard time coming out to our weekend events,” says Sheldon. “This event will feel very different from our other events. We always want to provide a totally different experience between all of our markets.”
In addition to the pop-up dining, the markets also might feature cooking demos, a spice market, and street food stalls.
But wait, there’s more, says Sheldon. Also launching in August will be Underbelly, a food-only event inspired by the ridiculously popular Smorgasburg flea in Brooklyn, New York. This weekly event likely will take place on Sundays at Sterle’s and feature 80- to 100-percent food vendors.
“We want to focus exclusively on the local artisan food community,” she says.