For its 10th year, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation’s flea market is continuing to give second lives to donated items that community members no longer have use for.
Led by the Cathedral’s Ladies Philoptochos Society, the annual flea market operates for just over a month during the summer. From July 1 until Aug. 7, the market is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Spanning three rooms across the Cathedral’s basement, the flea market is a treasure trove of goods donated by the Cathedral’s patrons. The Ladies Philoptochos Society asks for donations of everyday items, including kitchenware, linens, and fashion accessories. Donations featured in this year’s flea market include anything from 50 cent household wares to luxury goods by Gucci and Fendi.
“Like the loaves and fishes, the lot of donations multiply each year. We continue to be amazed and grateful,” Jean Prevas, the Cathedral’s Philoptochos chapter president, said in a statement.
After its launch in 2013, the flea market expanded from a single weekend in late August to eight week-long summer event.
The weekend-long flea market was originally attended by hundreds of Baltimore residents, including MICA and University of Baltimore students looking to furnish their student housing before the semester, but the COVID-19 pandemic left the Cathedral to re-configure the flea market’s structure.
During the spring of 2020, the Cathedral ran the flea market virtually to aid those seeking vital housewares at the beginning of the pandemic.
As the year progressed, however, the Cathedral developed a strategy to run the flea market in person and socially distanced. Over the summer of 2020, the Cathedral ran the flea market for eight weeks, allowing only 10-15 people in at a time to prevent the spread of COVID.
According to Georgeann Morekas, the vice president of the Ladies Philoptochos Society, the pandemic led to a boost in the flea market’s sales. With little to do and no access to some of the city’s other secondhand markets, Baltimore residents flocked to the Cathedral’s flea market.
“COVID made us re-think some things and we had to be more creative,” Morekas said. “It’s turned into a positive for our shoppers and for our sales.”
While the flea market is no longer limiting capacity to 10-15 shoppers at a time, they still take measures to keep patrons safe and healthy. Masks and hand sanitizer are provided for guests interested, and patrons are asked to check in prior to shopping to track the number of people in attendance.
Today, the flea market is a well-oiled machine. For the first three weeks of June, about 15 volunteers price donated goods and set them out on display. Once the items have been sorted and priced, the flea market opens for business at the beginning of July.
According to the press release, the flea market has drawn in six figures worth of donations since its inception. Proceeds go towards local charities, including the Franciscan Center, Weekend Backpacks for Kids, My Sister’s Place, and more.
Along with its charitable mission, the flea market also offers a sustainable alternative to those looking to purchase household goods as the flea market gives new life to items that might have otherwise been resigned to the landfill.
“It’s essentially recycling items,” said Morekas, who also works as an environmental engineer. “They have use in them – years of use in them. I see that as sustainability in a re-defined way.”
At the end of the flea market’s run, the Cathedral donates unsold items to charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Second Chance.
This coming weekend, the Plating Grace and Grub food truck will be available for shoppers to order from.
For those planning to visit, the Cathedral is located at the intersection of Maryland Avenue and Preston Street. Shoppers can enter the flea market from the Cathedral’s door on Maryland Ave. Free parking is available in the parking lot across from the Cathedral.