This past Sunday, the Cutler Flea Market was held at the Broome County Regional Farmers Market on Front Street in Binghamton. This monthly event with free admission was hosted all morning, showcasing a collection of local antique and artisan vendors. This was the fifth time the market was hosted this year, and future markets will be held on the second Sunday of each month, starting back up again in September.
Mimi Sprague, an antique dealer based out of Mad Hatter Antiques on Clinton Street, Binghamton, has coordinated the event for the past two years since coming up with the idea along with a few colleagues in the antique business. The idea came to her after she found success dealing outside of a traditional brick-and-mortar store at places like art galleries and farmers markets.
“We liked setting up what we call ‘pop-ups’ at different events,” Sprague said. “We’d be in Downtown Binghamton and ‘pop-up’ in a gallery, bringing together different vendors that sell different things — jewelry, antiques, vintage clothes — and it was so well-received that people kept saying that we had to keep doing it on a regular basis.”
This is the third year of the Cutler Flea Market, and while COVID-19 slowed things down a bit in early 2020, Sprague said she found a very passionate community in Binghamton coming out to support the market.
“There’s a whole variety of consumers to buy these [goods],” Sprague said. “Vendors, hobbyists and just normal people keep coming back.”
Sprague said that she thinks that one of the biggest reasons for the Cutler Flea Market’s success is its insistence on quality over quantity — something she believes sets the market apart from the various other antique shows and flea markets across the region.
“I want to make sure all the items are quality,” Sprague said. “[The items are] not just the type of stuff you’d see at any old flea market. I like to refer to it as upscale. I guess it is upscale.”
New visitors to the Cutler Flea Market can expect to find a variety of goods available from a wide variety of vendors. Last week’s market had goods available ranging from traditional nostalgic antiques to artisan goods like homemade jewelry and birdhouses as well as food from local restaurants and chefs, such as Despina’s Mediterranean Taste. Sprague is proud of the collection of loyal vendors she has amassed over the years.
“[There are] a couple of dealers come from Cooperstown, one from Downsville,” Sprague said. “A few guys come up [from] Pennsylvania … Some of these vendors come from an hour, two hours away just to sell at our market.”
There’s a reason these antique dealers will drive all the way out to Binghamton on a Sunday just to sell at the Cutler Flea Market — it’s very successful.
“A lot of the vendors, especially the food, completely sell out,” Sprague said.
Beyond just providing an event and a service to the antique hobbyists of Binghamton, Sprague sees the Cutler Flea Market as an opportunity to strengthen community ties to businesses throughout Binghamton. This goes for relationships between antique dealers as well.
“A funny thing is when we set up on a Sunday, the vendors will get there early and just start buying from each other,” Sprague said. “It’s really important to build these relationships … Sometimes a new business will move into Binghamton and they’ll come to the market and [talk] with me. And soon, because of the market, these vendors will build a following.”
Overall, Sprague said she is really proud of the homegrown market she has developed and thinks that there is a reason that people keep flocking to it month after month.
“It’s a really nice business of recycling interesting, old and collectible things,” Sprague said. “Really special old things.”