Neighborhood Flea director Carrie Nardini admits that she’d love to experience this year’s first market on May 10 as a visitor.

“It’s really an amazing cool mix, and it’s about discovering hidden gems in your own neighborhood,” says Nardini, a resident of Brookline.

Located in a parking lot on 23rd Street between Smallman Street and Penn Avenue in the Strip District, Neighborhood Flea is a pop-up paradise of over 50 micro businesses, collectors, artists, chefs and other sellers. It takes place the second Sunday of the month from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October.

And special at May’s market – because it’s Mother’s Day – the Flea is partnering with Wigle Whiskey which will be offering free shuttles to its Garden at the Barrelhouse on the North Side from 12 to 3 p.m. So Mom can sample some honey cream, shop spirits-themed handmade items and try her hand at making bitters or dip dying a t-shirt.

Other workshops taking place at the main location include essential oil perfume making with experts from Supernatural Silks and herb planting with Pisarcik Greenhouses and Flower Farm.

DJ “EZ Lou” will supply the music for a festival atmosphere and Colonel Eagleburger’s Highstepping Goodtime Band will perform live at the market on the 10th .

To get blood flowing before the booths open, visitors can sample a yoga or kickboxing class at 10 a.m., led by local instructors and sponsored by Organically Social.

“Then you can pick up a fresh juice from Local Press Juicery.  Zeke’s Coffee, Mediterra Bakehouse and a variety of food trucks will also be there,” says Nardini.

More than a mecca for shoppers of handmade art, unique vintage items and contemporary treasures, the Flea is a chance for small businesses to network with one another and test market their wares and measure levels of interest from customers, says Nardini who has led the I Made It! Market nomadic network for crafters for the last eight years.

“I like pop-up marketplaces because they give people the opportunity to expand their own small business networks by reaching out to different markets,” says Nardini, an MBA graduate of the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz School of Business. Also a crafter, she creates and sells her own beaded and metal jewelry.

Gio Attisano, co-founder of TechShop-based PuzzlePax, LLC, will be selling his “craft beer lifestyle goods” at the Flea.

“We’re fortunate to have something like this that brings people from the neighborhoods together. I work for myself, and this is all I do. It’s also great for people who are doing something creative on the side,” says Attisano who lives in Lawrenceville.

When he’s not at the Neighborhood Flea or designing new products, Attisano is selling his collapsible wooden six-pack holders and other items online. They are also available at Whole Foods markets.

“It’s really about supporting a small business economy and providing opportunities for small business located throughout the region,” says Nardini.

Laurie Bailey

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.