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bellwoods flea

Two markets battle it out to be the real Bellwoods Flea

Local flea markets, or fleas as they're affectionately called, have cropped up all over the city, including in the Dundas West neighbourhood. However, as some might have noticed, there are now two similarly named markets that call the area home: Bellwoods Flea and the Trinity Bellwoods Flea. And this isn't a coincidence.

In January, Justin Roth and Felicia Laplume, both artisans, started the Bellwoods Flea. Their rather intimate market grew in popularity over the following months; nearly 6,000 people said they were going to attend the April edition. By August however, the Trinity Bellwood Flea popped up, operating from the same Facebook page.

"When we initially partnered to start the market, we held many of the same goals and intentions," says Laplume via email. "But as with any relationship, over time we grew and our goals changed. We parted ways to pursue our own visions." Laplume currently runs Trinity Bellwoods Flea. She held a market yesterday at Studio Bar with more than 35 vendors.

Roth, who's also a concert photographer, continues to hold monthly markets under the original moniker Bellwoods Flea. He didn't describe the split as amicably, but says it happened after he missed a market while he was away shooting the WayHome Festival. He claims he was locked out of the pair's social media accounts and website, assets which he says he created and now has to rebuild.

It's a schism where both parties are continuing to push forward, much like other notable Toronto feuds. Roth is keeping with his earlier vision of an intimate market with about 15 vendors. He also plays old movies and lets visitors get nostalgic with retro video games at his events. "It's a little community of local artists, just the way I intended it when I started," he says.

Laplume brings in local vendors and artisans as well as individuals with Etsy businesses. On November 1, she's partnering with Raw Finery Studio and Fashion Savage, as well as the Centre for Social Innovation and the Toronto Vintage Society to host Swap 4 Syria to support Syrian refugees.

Roth is also teaming up with likeminded groups and says he's holding a Christmas market crawl with the Annex Flea and Parkdale Flea. Until then, his next flea is on November 14 at Dundas Video.

While Roth says he and Laplume are no longer on speaking terms, both are continuing to bring eager shoppers, intent on buying local, into the Dundas West area. Now we'll just have to see if they can sustain two fleas.


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