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Howard Street Sidewalk Market to Beautify 'Ugly' Lot

 Sol Cafe and company will bring their hipster flare — and vintage goods — to the monthly Saturday market.
Howard Street Market
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ROGERS PARK — A new Howard Street sidewalk market kicks off Saturday, featuring vintage clothing, handmade jewelry and ... garden gnomes.

The outdoor monthly flea market, founded by artists and hipster-types who frequent 6-month-old Sol Cafe, lasts from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the last Saturday of each month.

Sept. 28 is the year's final market.

The vendors, 15 in all, will set up along the 1600 block of West Howard Street in front of the former Lerner Newspaper site.

"I had the idea to do something like this when we first opened," said Simone Freeman, the cafe's owner. The market, she said, would not only bring life to a "really ugly, empty lot," but would help bring the Howard Street community together.

Britani Hutchinson, 25, has spent the past few months working with the Rogers Park Business Alliance to get the market cleared with the city and to recruit vendors.

She said they're asking for 10 percent of the sales to be donated to "Sol Cares," a brand new fund set up to help pay for other community projects like the market.

"I like the fact it gives the community feel," Hutchinson said of the market, officially dubbed "ART + SOL Flea Market."

It will feature such attractions as an "interactive" booth, in which anyone can paint a T-shirt or record a vinyl for free.

One vendor, vintage retailer Closet 2 Couture, plans to bring a trailer of full-blown hipster attire, such as an "UGLY Red Christmas Tree Sweater" from the 1980s and a dated black vest embroidered with poinsettias.

Another vendor, Maureen Flannery, plans to sell garden gnomes and vintage goods at her booth.

Lost Eras, a costume shop and purveyor of knickknacks and vintage goods, also plans to set up its own stand a little farther east on Howard, said Katrina Balog, a representative for the business alliance.

She said even though Sol Cafe wasn't directly sponsoring the market, its customers were the driving force behind it.

"On Howard Street, before Sol Cafe came, there wasn’t really a place for people to meet or hang out," Balog said. "Coffee shops have an effect of bringing people together."