Tea, crochet and water balloons

Pearle selling her handcrafted pillows and blankets at the Norfolk Flea Market on Saturday, April 6.

Aiden Croghan|Marlin Chronicle

The Norfolk Flea Market provides vendors with a monthly creative outlet and patrons with the opportunity to support local businesses.

Crocheted clothes. Collectible skateboards. Hand-crafted tea blends. Chimichurri sauce. What do these four completely different things have in common? They can all be found at the Norfolk Flea Market, which first opened in March 2024.

The Norfolk Flea Market, which is held in the Waterside District every first Sunday of the month from March to August, has a variety of goods to offer. Flea market essentials like vintage clothing and collectibles are commonplace, alongside a wide selection of artisan goods. These are accompanied by live music and the regular restaurants and offerings of the Waterside District. 

The Waterside District is a marketplace on the Norfolk waterfront, which, according to the City of Norfolk’s website, “shines bright on the river after a 40 million dollar facelift.” This “facelift” took place in 2017 in an attempt to revitalize the classic Waterside Marketplace for a new generation. 

The flea market takes place inside the Waterside District building, as well as outside along the river, to create a mixture between the permanent shops at the District and the pop-up flea market tables and tents. The location, while very nice, can be confusing to first-time patrons, due to a lack of clearly marked pathways. With a little exploring, however, patrons can quickly learn their way around. 

One of the businesses present at the flea market was Herb Harmony Tea, run by Alexandria Brown, a certified herbalist. Her booth mostly consisted of tea mixes, ranging from dessert blends to medicinal teas. She also sold other medicinal herbs outside teas. Herb Harmony Tea is a fairly new business; it has been open only a month and a half, not much longer than the flea market, according to Brown.

Alexandria Brown’s Herb Harmony Tea booth features delicious smelling tea concoctions from dessert blends to medicinal teas. 

Aiden Croghan|Marlin Chronicle

She decided to open the business after getting her last needed motivational push. “I’ve always been interested in drinking tea. It became a turning point for me when I became a certified herbalist early last year, and my family convinced me to start my business journey this year,” Brown said. Her booth featured a tea blend of strawberry and white chocolate, which had an absolutely delicious scent. Brown said her favorite part of running her business is seeing the customers’ reactions to smelling her tea.

Another business present at the flea market was Pathfinder Mercantile. They sold a variety of crocheted and knitted goods, from classics like beanies and scarves to reusable water balloons. They also sold prints, paintings, stickers and more. Pathfinder Mercantile is a group of artists that work together to sell each other’s products without taking a cut of each other’s profits. 

“I want to get all of my friends who go through phases of hyperfixation of new crafts and love to learn new things, to kind of get them together and work together as a collective and sell the stuff they make so that they don’t get burnt out by it,” Liz A., the founder of Pathfinder Mercantile, said. 

Another member of the collective, Max, expressed that his favorite part of selling his crafts as part of Pathfinder Mercantile is connecting with other people who crochet, which helped him realize that there’s a much larger community there than he had assumed. “You realize that there’s a whole other community that you haven’t experienced that’s around you,” Max said. 

One of Max’s creations is reusable water balloons. Max created these as a solution to the excessive waste of regular water balloons, as well as to be a solution for the sensory issues or pain a regular water balloon could cause a child, which Max said he experienced as a kid.

Many customers explored the variety of vendors at the flea market. Others simply just enjoyed the regular restaurants and activities of the Waterside District. One of these customers was Dalia, a returning customer to the flea market after their first event in March. 

“Last time I actually found some really good stuff. This is probably one of the best flea markets I’ve been to, because I’m from New York, and if this was up there, the stands would be ran through, there would be nothing left,” Dalia said.

The Norfolk Flea Market can be a great place to go to see vendors passionate about their crafts, as well as a way to purchase handmade and used goods from local vendors and artists as opposed to shopping at chain stores.

By Aiden Croghan