was what I was thinking as we walked around the craft show at the Masonic Center in Kent last December. My sister asked me to go to the show and I couldn’t wait! It was the first time I had been to a craft show at the Center and I was so surprised to find out that they held shows there.

I have been a crafter for years, making t-shirts and woodcrafts and doing the bigger craft shows in the area, so I thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to have a booth here next year!

 My dad was a 60 year member of this Masonic Lodge and for quite a few years, he was the caretaker of the building. When we were kids, he would take me and my sister with him for company while he worked mowing grass and tidying up.

We would play all over that grand home. We’d quietly (we didn’t want to get caught) run down the wide halls, exploring the rooms, peeking in all the closets. We’d play pool and sit in the spectator chairs in the pool room, feeling all high up and important. We might have slid down the long railing of the grand staircase, but I’m admitting to nothing.

So, you could imagine my excitement at the thought of vending at a craft show, so I asked the coordinator about having a booth next year and she said they were not really taking other vendors. A little disappointed, I went into the kitchen to find my dad’s friend, Barb Moore, the Lodge coordinator; the wife of Fred Moore who is the current caretaker of the building and a long time friend of my dad’s. I told her about the conversation with the lady and said I wished we could have our own craft show here, but in the warm months when we could have booths all over the beautiful lawn. She said we could and she loved the idea and said she would talk it over with Fred and we’d meet in January to discuss it.

The New Flea Movement
When you hear about a Flea, it always has a designated city before the word. The Cleveland Flea, the Hudson Flea, and the Youngstown Flea, are the local ones. The term “flea market” is generally not used anymore to describe the new upscale events that are happening all
over America.

Also, the vendors and artisans selling at the Fleas are often referred to as Makers, not Crafters. The term “Maker” describes a whole host of things from antique up cyclers to furniture handcrafters to jewelers and artists, even creators of chocolate confections and
cupcakes! They are all selling at the Makers Markets now. Across the country, there is actually a “Maker Movement” which is a term for independent crafters and creators. There are groups, magazines, and lots of online support for this DIY community.

It’s challenging for these makers to stand out on sites like Etsy and eBay. Unless they have a product that nobody else can make, they are going to be one of a million trying to be noticed in a worldwide marketplace. Except for some that sell in small local gift shops, most lack a brick and mortar store to sell their products.

But at a local Flea, they stand out from the crowd because most likely, nobody will have
anything even remotely similar to theirs. No matter how big the venue, the maker has the opportunity to be seen. For those shopping at a flea, it’s a wonderful way to support these creative local small businesses

Who Shops at a Flea?
With the changing attitude toward fleas, it has become “the” place to find unusual things for
the home. As the younger crowd is discovering these fleas, their tastes are moving more toward mid century modern furniture, unusual appliances and vintage fashions from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It used to be the older the piece, the higher its price, but things are changing. Folks are enjoying shopping for handmade, one of a kind things for their homes; statement pieces that encourage conversation.

Reasons People Flock to a Flea
You never know what you’ll find at a Flea.
Also, what is found on the tables one month could be totally different than what you might find the next.

Antiques and collectibles

The Kent Flea will have vendors that attend auctions and search for unusual and hard to find things. A Yummy Food Truck. The Flea will have the most amazing food truck with some things you usually only see at the fair. Funnel cakes, ice cream, and always free popsicles for the kiddos.
Meet and Greet.
Most vendors and hand crafters love talking about their stuff; how it’s made, where they found it. You might also find them working on new pieces while they visit with shoppers. You might even see your
neighbors, too.

We will have classes and demos at the Kent Flea. You can take a mini painting class or
try your hand at making pottery. You can also make your own truffles and design your own bracelet.

The Venue—The Marvin Kent Home

One of the most exciting thing visitors will get to do is stroll through the grand home.

A bit of history about the venue:

Marvin Kent (1816—1908) was a railroad president, politician, and businessman man best known as the namesake of the city of Kent. He commissioned and built this private residence. Construction was begun in 1880 and expert woodcarvers were brought in from New York and Cleveland to fashion and craft this beautiful home from the finest woods, for which Kent is said to have searched far and wide. The craftsmen lived in Kent while work progressed on the home. Among the home’s remarkable features are walls and partitions of solid brick, cellar walls, and entrances of thick sandstone.

When the home was completed in 1884, it provided 7,335 square feet of living space with 20 rooms, including a ballroom and 20 fireplaces. During the time the Kent family lived in the home, four U. S. presidents (Warren Harding, William Howard Taft, William McKinley, and Benjamin Harrison), either before or after their term, have been guests and slept in the southeast second floor bedroom of the stately Victorian showplace. A portion of the proceeds from the Kent Flea will go to the care and restoration of the home.

Come and Sell with Us
The Kent Flea is always looking for vendors who have something original that they’d like to sell. If you think you’d like to take a stab at selling your wares, please contact us at thekentflea@gmail.com or find us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/kentflea/

A special thanks goes out to my sisters, Diane Ludick and Amy Rose; Fred Moore, a Mason and long time caretaker of the Lodge: the building is very important to him; Barb, his wife; and another Mason, Dick Shoppelrey, and his wife Ida Mae Shoppelrey, who were both close friends of my dad’s. Thank you, also, to Nicole Hennicke who was instrumental in the planning part with me and my sisters.

Showcasing Kent, Ohio and the surrounding Northeastern Ohio Region.
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