Neighborhood Flea brings Pittsburgh together to support small businesses


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

Attendees at the Neighborhood Flea in the Strip District on Sunday.

By Serena Garcia, Staff Writer

Crowds of antique collectors, vintage enthusiasts and those looking to find one-of-kind pieces traveled to the Strip District Sunday for the Neighborhood Flea’s final flea market of the season. 

The flea typically runs from May to October at The Stacks in Pittsburgh’s Strip District on every second Sunday of the month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Attendees pursued 110 vendors ranging from vintage stores like Millvale’s B-Sides Vintage to revamped and re-dyed vintage clothing pieces from Denim by Demi. This month’s flea market also featured something brand new that the flea had never had before — a live tattoo artist. 

For Carrie Nardini, founder of the Neighborhood Flea, the event is a pop-up marketplace for attendees to find one-of-a-kind items whether vintage, antique or handmade. She also said the flea market is the perfect way for attendees to support small businesses, and also find one-of-kind pieces to add to their collection.

“The Neighborhood Flea is a vibrant pop up marketplace that features returning favorites and new sellers of all kinds including vintage, handmade, food, local services, music and more,” Nardini said. “It’s always exciting to explore the entire flea picking through so many different types of goods.”

An attendee with their dog enters the Neighborhood Flea in the Strip District on Sunday.
(John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer )

Nardini, a Pitt alumna, created the Neighborhood Flea in 2014, seven years after she started the I Made It! Market, a local Pittsburgh pop-up marketplace for local business and crafters to show off their creations. Nardini said her passion for thrifting and estate sales inspired her to start the Neighborhood Flea, especially at its location in the Strip district.

“I’ve always loved thrifting and estate sales. I grew up in a family business that was located in uptown and had fond memories of going to lunch in the Strip when visiting my dad at work,” Nardini said. “I immediately felt the hustle and bustle of the Strip and its wholesale commerce roots were the perfect place to feature a variety of Pittsburgh specialty businesses.”

The I Made It! Market will return to Pittsburgh for the 2022 season for a special holiday event titled, “I Made It! for the Holidays,” on Nov. 19 at the Block Northway.

Nardini said besides the set-up of vendors, the flea markets are also full of live music and a variety of food trucks. 

“They will find food trucks and small batch local food offerings, music, and a variety of vendors. Each month resembles the others, but they are never the same,” Nardini said. “The Flea shifts a bit as the seasons change. It’s so fun to return to the Flea because you’ll always enjoy a new experience.”

Nardini added that vendors are chosen through a juried application process, meaning that they have an application process and then select a variety of sellers based on what they have to sell and the quality of their work.  

Shops at the Neighborhood Flea in the Strip District on Sunday. (John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer )

Sydney Mahmood, a junior psychology major, marked her third visit to the Neighborhood Flea on Sunday, and describes the event as a welcoming community. Some of her favorite vendors include vintage stores such as KVAULT and art vendors such as Baxter and the Bear which creates prints for films.

“I feel like it’s a big community coming together,” Mahmood said. “My mom was saying it’s like ‘one big Esty shop.’ Like you just walk around and it’s everything you want to buy online, but you just never buy and you see so many different things.” 

Mahmood said with each flea market, some of her favorite vendors bring new items to the event. 

“Places that I always visit and stuff, frequently, everytime the fleas are happening, they always bring in new stuff and it’s always like I’m shopping a new store every time,” Mahmood said. “You can go to American Eagle, and it’s always the same stuff, but here, they always bring new stuff in. So it’s always a new experience every time.”

Simon’s Granddaughter, a Pittsburgh-based company, specializes in upcycling dinnerware and turning them into something new such as cake, dessert and jewelry stands. Valerie Snyder, a clinical research coordinator and imaging specialist at Pitt’s School of Medicine for their Department of Ophthalmology, began the small business in 2009.

On some of the repurposed china, which Snyder sources from local Pittsburghers, estates sales and thrift stores, she said she applies lettering by hand to create quotes and messages and highlight some Pittsburgh slang.

Snyder has sold her goods at the Neighborhood Flea since it began in 2014, and said she hopes people find “little treasures” while at the market.  

“I’ve been an original, I’m an OG to the flea. I’ve been with Carrie since 2014, which I believe is when it started, “ Snyder said. “I’ve been a tried and true vendor with her for the last eight years.”

Nardini said the Neighborhood Flea hopes to represent Pittsburgh’s residents and the City itself, and show the neighborhood that everyone loves. 

“These people all reflect what’s unique about themselves and where they come from,” Nardini said. “It’s sort of a coming together of all sorts of things Pittbsurgh. The idea behind everything is to help boost small businesses.”