Every Saturday morning, a ritual pulls me from bed at the break of dawn.
The bustling market is the perfect start to my weekend. I drive to the Clematis Street market, unload the goods, set up the booth, park the van, and walk back. The fresh morning air and the quiet stroll back to the stall is a peaceful moment I look forward to every week.
The city of West Palm Beach holds a special place in my heart as it is where I first started my business and established my home in the States. The market itself is like my extended family with familiar faces and vendors I've come to know over the years. Bill & Ray, the eccentric market manager who left a memorable first impression, opened the chapter of my journey in this unique community.
Making Connections through Small Talk
Small talk is one of my favorite aspects of the market. I enjoy meeting people from diverse backgrounds and learning their unique life stories. From street-smart salesmen to warm and friendly customers, every interaction is enriching.
The Beginning of a Beautiful Vending Day
As I walk out of the parking lot, I take a deep breath of fresh air and a moment to admire the sunrise on Clematis Street. The vendors with their rich cultural backgrounds are all preparing for a busy day at the market.
Greeting my vendor friends is the best way to start the day. First off, Ozan, my Turkish friend who says hello with a rhythmic and energetic 'What's up Yi-An?' as he sets up his bling-bling products while smoking. He always smells a mix of fresh cologne and cigarettes, a familiar scent.
Next to Ozan is an antique dealer who sells beautiful old porcelain cups and china pieces. I always joke that I'm lucky not to be his neighbor, or all my earnings would go to him.
Barkan, a Turkish vendor selling beach towels, greets me with a gentle nod and smile. I never forget to compliment the quality of his 100% cotton towels.
Then I’d run into Clyde, who has been vending for over 30 years and has a strong and humorous sales pitch. “Want to know how to bring your wife the smiles she had on the honeymoon?” "Let's make it happen."
Alice, a vendor from Thailand who sells dresses, is always kind and makes me feel like family. She often surprises me with Thai sticky rice, knowing how much I enjoy it. Her warm and welcoming personality always brings a smile to my face.
Luis, the owner of Chic Vibe, has a booth right in front of mine. We always take turns buying coffee for each other. His favorite is Vino Tinto while mine is Flat white from Salento Coffee. Sometimes we don’t even need to ask what the other person wants and simply bring their favorite coffee. He’s like a big brother that always looks out for me.
Uncle Jeff and Aunt Carol's Support
Uncle Jeff, the Palm Beach canvas painting vendor, arrives early and takes his time to set up his displays meticulously. He exudes mystery and triumph as he regales me with tales of his successful market experiences. "At the South Florida State Fair, all my paintings sold out for 17 consecutive days. I did really well," he says with a sense of pride.
Curious about his thoughts on a potential new market, I ask "Do you think my merchandise would be suitable for that carnival?"
He takes a moment to consider before replying, "It's held annually with a diverse customer base from different backgrounds, so it's difficult to determine. However, you won't know for sure unless you try it. Give it a shot."
Our conversation always ends with a subtle nod and a winking emoji 😉 from Uncle Jeff, leaving me feeling confident and inspired to make the most of the day ahead.
Aunt Carol sees me and runs over to give me an English copy she had revised for me. This is part of our mutual aid project––I promised to teach her how to create a website in exchange for her help with copywriting.
Across from me was Alicia, who started her own business, Vicis Designs, making ocean resin seascapes on various mediums some including local beach sand. Her beautiful artwork showcasing ocean waves sells quickly, and I feel a connection with her, as we both have experienced the struggles and joys of being a female entrepreneur.
Next to me was Talizmani, a couple selling bohemian jewelry. I enjoyed being their neighbor, as their booth exuded elegance with charming adornments and a serene atmosphere. To kick off each market, Jeff would light sage, creating a peaceful atmosphere.
A Magical Start to the Day
As I walk around the market, I am filled with energy. The morning sun shining on the stalls and the vendors' warm greetings make every Saturday a magical experience. This is a beautiful start to my day and a reminder of the richness and diversity of life.
Work or Friends?
As I finally arrived at my booth, my husband greets me with a playful question, "Are you here to work or make friends?" To which I replied with a smile, echoing Uncle Jeff's smug expression, "Can’t you be both😉? Let's start the morning!"
- West Palm Beach Antique & Flea Market
- Every Saturday 8.30 am - 2 pm
- Address: 300 Clematis St, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
- Editor: Tanny Kuo
- Author: Yian Chang
Owner of Ganapati Crafts Co.
Yian, a Taiwanese Floridian, operates as a handicraft vendor, offering a range of charming and unique products including felt finger puppets, nursery decor, holiday ornaments, and handwoven bags. Be sure to visit Yian's brand, Ganapati Crafts Co., to explore her creative and one-of-a-kind creations.