A primo supplier to sharp-eye shoppers, Portland Flea-for-All is enhancing its footprint with a new location and expanded space on Congress Street.
In a few weeks the antique mart, a treasure ground for eclectic nesters, will close in Bayside and move into a 10,000-square-foot first floor space, formerly Paul’s Food Center.
“This transition downtown is a momentous one for us” said Erin Kiley, who runs the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink emporium with her husband Nathaniel Baldwin. In March, the couple bought the space at 585 Congress Street, but kept their plans to move hush hush until now.
“It’s been our dream to be part of the arts district since we opened. We’ve loved our time in Bayside and it’s allowed us the space and time to grow our business in a beautiful, historic building,” said Kiley. “Now we can start a new chapter among some of our small business and arts community heroes like the Portland Museum of Art and State Theatre.”
Though Bayside is undergoing a residential housing boom, the couple wanted to be in the heart of the action.
Since opening in 2012, the Flea-for-All has been a testing ground for new businesses. Up to 300, from T-Shirt makers to record shops, have hung their shingles on the Flea’s freewheeling first floor. Many, like vintage thrift shop Little Ghost, used it as a launchpad.
“The Flea has grown and grown and really become something special,” said Dawn York, who opened at the Flea in 2012 and is now on Congress Street. “So many artists, antiques and vintage dealers, both seasoned and just getting started as I was, come together to sell under one roof and we really feel invested in the business.”
The couple bring their collection of antiques, kitsch and industrial chic to a block shared with 100 percent local restaurant Vinland and Yes Books. The Flea will increase by one-third, going from 7,500 to 10,000 square feet and hire up to six people. The move coincides with the sale of 125 Kennebec Street to Patrick Babcock, owner of Foundation House, a sober living facility.
“To me this is a success story all around,” said Kiley. “It’s good for Portland and good for Maine.”