562 Flea: How One Man is Helping Small Businesses Thrive

562+Flea+Market%27s+logo+can+be+seen+all+over+the+Whittier+location+as+attendees+visit+the+various+booths.+Photo+courtesy+of+Carlos+Vega

562 Flea Market’s logo can be seen all over the Whittier location as attendees visit the various booths. Photo courtesy of Carlos Vega

Whittier Boulevard remained busy while A Tribe Called Quest blasted in the lot of Margarita’s Fashions which was filled with masked vendors and customers looking for good deals.

27-year-old Andres Vega created and hosted Whittier’s first flea market, the 562 Flea, in the lot of his grandmother’s dress boutique. Through heavy advertising on Instagram and hours spent making flyers, Vega was able to attract hundreds of customers so far. Vega’s first flea market event took place on September 28, and the second on October 17.

“The 562 Flea was actually something I thought of before COVID. It was always a thing that would help me sell my own products in person and get away from all of these really expensive flea markets, where we don’t even know the person organizing them,” said Vega.

With over 30 different sellers, there were vintage stores, jewelry makers, plant shops, and even food available. The shops and aesthetics on display were diverse and had items all ages would be interested in.

“There’s always been farmers markets and swap meets everywhere. Being Mexican, I grew up going to every swap meet and farmers market in Los Angeles. Traditionally, they tend to be run by older people that are used to that whole circuit of farmers markets and meets. With 562 Flea, it’s more directed to high-school and college students. We’re trying to give more opportunities to young people’s businesses because they haven’t had as much experience,” said Vega.

For the first event, there was no vendor fee charged. Possible sellers filled out and submitted a Google form through Instagram. This platform was the driving force of the event’s turnout.

Vega said, “Now, I’m super excited that I have people to help me actually refine this event. The two interns I have are going to help me with media and branding. I want to get this market to the point where people see it as an entity.”

The advertising helped the Instagram account, @562Flea, gain more momentum. After the second event, Vega gained more followers when TikTok user @shellburritoz.fooddiary posted a video that has now amassed over 45,000 views. The vision for the market does not stop here.

“It would be super cool to get a bigger venue and just keep growing until it becomes branded. We have so many creatives in Whittier and Hacienda Heights, and people don’t even know it, so they just end up going to LA or Long Beach to shop,” said Vega.

With patience and dedication like Vega’s, an idea can easily become a successful reality like the result of the 562 Flea Market. Within the time of the pandemic, many young creatives have taken on new projects, both large and small scale.

Vega said, “If you’re a person of color, like me, and want to start something out, do it for yourself and not for others. A lot of people want to take advantage of work, even if you’re in high school. Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur now. It’s so easy to come up with something new, get together with a bunch of people you like, and share it with the world.”