Outdoor public markets offer bargains galore and a shopping experience that’s anything but run-of-the-mill.
It’s springtime, which means all of the best activities the Sacramento region has to offer are happening outdoors—including shopping. Not only are farmers markets doing brisk business in and around the city nearly every day of the week, but outdoor public markets featuring secondhand, handcrafted and new merchandise are attracting happy crowds.
Public markets seem to be one of the bright spots in an otherwise dim economy. Vendors and artisans can access the marketplace with as little overhead as a folding table and a small rental fee. Shoppers get cheap entertainment as they forage for bargains and one-of-a-kind items in an authentic community space. Think of these markets as the anti-mall: sunshine versus fluorescent lighting, live bands versus Muzak, handmade pizza versus Sbarro. What’s not to love?
Sacramento Antique Faire
If you love trolling for unusual items from bygone eras, this is your place. More than 300 antiques vendors from California, Oregon and Nevada hawk an impressive selection of goods here every month: costume jewelry, vintage hats and stoles, antique dolls and children’s toys, fine china and crystal, oil paintings, furniture, musical instruments and much, much more. Wear your comfy shoes; there’s a lot of territory to cover.
Market founder Marylon Rose was inspired by a passion for things made the old-fashioned way. “I’ve always loved antiques,” says Rose. “I love things that I know someone created with their hands. You can feel the integrity of it.”
Not into antiques? No matter. The market makes for a pleasant people-watching venue on a leisurely Sunday. Enjoy coffee and a pastry from one of the food vendors while you take it all in.
Where: 21st Street between W and X streets • Open: Year-round. Second Sunday of the month, 6:30 a.m.–3 p.m. • Admission: $3 (free for kids 15 and younger) • Parking: Free • Info: sacantiquefaire.com
Sacramento Craft and Flea
If the Antique Faire is the place to buy something old, the Craft and Flea is where you’ll find something new. Although both markets are operated by Marylon Rose, they are different animals. Craft and Flea, which made its debut in March, is all about handcrafted and newly manufactured goods and has a decidedly fresher, funkier vibe.
Rose carefully handpicked the vendors, who sell “goods that you’ll want to keep,” she says. Think 1,200-thread-count sheets, organic textiles, handy kitchen gadgets, handcrafted jewelry, outdoor furniture, and handmade shampoos and soaps. Craft and Flea also features what Rose calls a “general store” area with items like olive oil, baked goods and fresh-cut flowers.
Where: 21st Street between W and X streets • Open: Year-round. Fourth Sunday of the month, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. • Admission: $3 (free for kids 15 and under) • Parking: Free • Info: saccraftandflea.com
Midtown Bazaar is a little like midtown the neighborhood: quirky, eclectic and authentically Sacramento. Inspired by public markets she had seen in Portland, Dubai and Egypt, organizer Sabrina Berhane thought Sacramento needed a place where the creative community could gather to sell their goods. She and Aaron Zeff, who owns the parking structure where the event is held, set out to create “a place where you can come down and pick up something fun.”
“The response so far has been fabulous,” says Berhane. “What people have really liked about it is the handmade stuff.”
On display during a recent visit: darling potato-print baby clothes, jewelry made from repurposed watch parts (it’s prettier than you’d think), organic dog toys and treats, ceramic pendant necklaces, birdhouses crafted from reclaimed wood, knitted scarves and blankets, and historic photographs of our fair city. Hungry? Try the handmade wood-fired pizza—just be sure to save room for Gram’s Cookies or you’ll be sorry.
Where: I Street between 16th and 17th streets • Open: Year-round. Saturday, noon–5 p.m. (till 9 p.m. on Second Saturdays) • Admission: Free • Parking: Street • Info: midtownbazaar.com
Denio’s Farmers Market & Swap Meet
Any market that can still pack in the crowds after more than six decades must be doing something right. Denio’s is that place. Hundreds of vendors and thousands of bargain hunters converge on Denio’s grounds every weekend for one of Northern California’s largest outdoor markets. The spiffy facilities and family-friendly atmosphere keep them coming back—that and the bargains, of course.
Denio’s pretty much has it all: apparel for kids and adults, toys and electronics, fashion sunglasses, western hats and boots, fishing gear, fleece blankets, fabric by the yard, garden statuary, luggage, lingerie, lawn equipment . . . are you getting the idea?
The food is standard fairground fare: hot dogs, nachos and the like. If you’re craving something fresh and healthful, hit up the expansive farmers market section for decent deals on produce or a bag of roasted peanuts to munch on while you shop.
Where: 1551 Vineyard Road, Roseville • Open: Year-round. Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. (a smaller Friday market operates 10 a.m.–3 p.m.) • Admission: Free • Parking: $3 (free on Fridays) • Info: denios.org
Although not as sprawling as Denio’s, the city-run Galt Market carries many of the same items as its Roseville counterpart but in cozier surroundings. Strolling through the wide aisles here, you’ll get a strong sense of small-town pride. Market attendants keep the grounds looking sharp and offer free carryout service for those taking home a big haul.
Along produce row, the fruit and vegetable vendors call out the day’s deals while men wielding long blades gingerly remove thorns from nopales, the savory cactus pads used in Mexican dishes. Come hungry. There are some tasty eats to be found here, including fresh-roasted corn on the cob, tacos, chow mein, churros, shaved ice, horchata and irresistible caramel corn.
Where: 610 Chabolla Ave., Galt • Open: Year-round. Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 a.m.–2 p.m. • Admission: Free • Parking: Free (arrive early; the adjacent lots often fill up by late morning) • Info: ci.galt.ca.us
Sacramento Saturday Market
Jessica Doan wanted to create a marketplace that served artists and artisans “who weren’t big enough names to have their own gallery showing.” Throw in a swap meet section, a kids zone with games and face painting, food vendors and some live music, and you’ve got Sacramento Saturday Market. “We really want it to be a family-oriented thing,” says Doan. “I have kids and we’re always looking for inexpensive things to do with them.”
While the market just opened in April, Doan dreams of it one day becoming like the thriving public markets in Portland and Seattle. “My vision is that someday we’ll be like that.”
Where: Cal Expo, Lot E (corner of Ethan Way and Exposition Boulevard) • Open: April–December (closed July 16), first and third Saturday, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. • Admission: $1 (free for kids 14 and younger) • Parking: Free • Info: sacsaturdaymarket.com