Rose Bowl Flea Market Returns, and With It, For Many,  A Renewed Sense of Normalcy

By CYNTHIA YANG, Weekendr Staff Writer
Published on Apr 9, 2021

The legendary open-air Rose Bowl Flea Market is set to reopen this weekend on Sunday, April 11. Vendors and buyers have been chomping at the bit since the market closed last spring.

“It’s a great experience to go to a flea market and go treasure hunting,” said a buoyant Dennis Dodson, chief operating officer for RG Canning, Inc., which runs the event. 

“And the Rose Bowl is famous for that,” he added. “And as you well know, it’s ‘America’s stadium’. It’s just a great stadium. It’s a great shopping experience. And we look forward to having all of our vendors and our shoppers back.”

Rose Bowl management is just as thrilled at the return of the popular event. 

“We’re ecstatic that the Flea Market is back,” said Darryl Dunn, CEO and general manager for the Rose Bowl Operating Company. 

“People of course will wear masks,” he said. “And I think we’re all getting used to the new normal, like when you’re going out shopping,  basically.”

Dunn added that the Flea Market operators have worked very closely with the Pasadena Health Department. 

“Everything is in place,” he said, “and there’s been an immense amount of work getting ready for what promises to be a beautiful day.”

“People are going to feel really good that a little bit of normalcy is coming back because when it comes to the Flea Market, there are some diehards. People who just love the Flea Market. And I think those people are super excited for Sunday,” Dunn said.

Need a road sign from the 1920s? A wedding dress from the ‘70s? Maybe books, records,  and personal ‘bilia from people all over the U.S. and the world? What makes the Rose Bowl Flea Market so fascinating is the unpredictability and sometimes downright astounding range of things to be found, from the mundane to the remarkable.

The Rose Bowl Flea Market has also been one of the most successful in the entire country, attracting 2,500 vendors and 20,000 buyers a month in pre-pandemic days. It is known all over the world for the uniqueness and quality of the items on offer.

“When we developed the idea, we just didn’t do a swap meet or a flea market,” explained Mike Redd, RG Canning Administration CEO.

“We decided that we wanted to have a broad spectrum of interests for people that are going to come there and attend because it’s the only way you can get the admission prices that we get,” he said. 

“So the first thing was, we knew we had to get high-end antiques, which we did. And we became probably one of the largest single-day outdoor antique events in the country.”

But they wanted to be about more than just antiques, Redd noted. 

“We wanted to have a variety,” said Redd, “so on the perimeter, we have arts and crafts, new innovative merchandise, not just new merchandise, but new innovative stuff that’s unusual, things that are just that’s coming out, or stuff that people hand-make or invent, and are trying to get funding for.”

The Flea Market had become a longtime institution in Pasadena, noted Dodson.

“We’ve been there 50 years, 51 years actually,” he said Thursday. “We were even there when they had the Olympics come in, and the soccer in the early nineties. So we’ve been there second Sunday every month, 50 years running, but unfortunately, when COVID hit, it had no mercy. It hit everybody.”

As with shops and venues that continue to open throughout Pasadena and L.A. County, the Market will mandate several guidelines for vendors and buyers.

As noted on their website, buyers must maintain social distance requirements of 6 feet at all times, and are required to wear a face mask or face covering at all times, covering the nose and mouth.

Vendors are also reminded that they should remain in the center of  their booths to maintain social distancing, and plan on creating an area in the middle of their space as a home base, say swap meet organizers. 

The event opens at 9 a.m. and the swap meet admission price is $10 per person walk-up, payable by cash only. Children under 12 are admitted free with an adult.

And some things won’t change, said Dodson. Asked if buyers could expect something new and different, he said, “Nope. Just the same old familiar faces.”

The Rose Bowl  Stadium is at 1000 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena, CA.




One Comment to: Rose Bowl Flea Market Returns, and With It, For Many,  A Renewed Sense of Normalcy

  1. Jennifer Grannis

    April 11th, 2021

    The Rose Bowl flea market was a super spreader clusterf*ck today. RG Canning had no traffic, pedestrian, or parking controls in place. I spent an hour in traffic just down in the arroyo because the carneys that they are clearly paying with meth couldn’t begin to direct traffic in the parking lots. I’ve been going (and spending money) at the flea market for 30 years. But it’s become such a mess that I won’t try again. This puff piece doesn’t even come close to describing the reality of the Rose Bowl today.


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