For treasure hunters, fashionistas, and collectors of all kinds, no trip to New York is complete without a visit to Manhattan’s longest-running outdoor market, the Hell’s Kitchen Flea, located on West 39th Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues every Saturday and Sunday of the year.
Operating on the site of the famous Paddy Market on the West Side of Manhattan—and now the island’s trendiest neighborhood—the Hell’s Kitchen Flea is the place to find antiques, vintage fashion, collectibles, handmade jewelry, rare vinyl and items so bizarre they sometimes defy classification.
Just a ten-minute walk west from Times Square, the Hell’s Kitchen Flea is famous with locals and visitors alike for its one-of-a-kind gifts and souvenirs from some of Manhattan’s most well-known antique collectors, up-and-coming jewelry designers and vintage fashion shops.
When you visit the Hell’s Kitchen market, expect to see high quality bits of everything under the sun.
Where to Shop at Hell's Kitchen Flea
Pucci, Hermes and Prada shoes call out to fashionistas from the Closet Without Walls, a pop-up vintage fashion store that has been a fixture at the market for years.
Collectors can find pieces of political history like campaign buttons and political flyers from elections gone-by and musical history including lots of memorabilia from the history of rock—everything from original buttons promoting the British Invasion—remember, the Fab Four arrived for their first American tour in New York—to posters and original T-shirts from concerts of everyone from Janis Joplin and Jimmy Hendrix to Lady Gaga.
A favorite vendor, Pete Farkis, is at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea every single weekend, rain or shine, selling custom leather jackets and bags in every color of the rainbow for a song—much less than dinner for two. Pete made the official jackets for Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones.
Flea markets are all about hunting for treasure, so of course persistence often pays off. Be patient and prepare to walk away with things you never could have expected like: silver bangles, Kentucky Derby-worthy hats, musical instruments or even rare skateboards and massive hand-woven Indian wall hangings and carpets. Remember to bring cash as few vendors accept anything else.
Celeb and Fur-Friend Sightings
Depending on the day, you may be lucky enough to spot celebrities because the flea has always been a draw for bohemians. The market is frequented by some of the world’s most famous jazz musicians who often squeeze in a visit to check out rare jazz LPs and sheet music.
You may also get to see an artist in action as they do a demonstration. In the past, woodblock printers, pumpkin carvers and mosaic makers have all given market-goers a peek into how they make their art. There are also some of the adorable, and eligible, New York dogs and cats as the market is home to regular animal adoption events.
The HK Foundation
Shoppers at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market often don’t know they’re also supporting starving artists in the neighborhood. Proceeds from the market benefit The Hell’s Kitchen Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting visual artists in Hell’s Kitchen with grants ranging from $500 to $3,500. The market provides exhibition space for the recipients to show their work and artists frequently provide demonstrations, especially in the fall.
How to Get There (and What to Eat)
Before you go, pick up a quick breakfast and cup of coffee at any of the nearby restaurants or cafés so you have enough energy to navigate market.
The Hell’s Kitchen Flea is conveniently located near the ACE subway stations and only a short walk from Times Square close to many great spots for snacks, full meals or post-shopping drinks.
The closest of all is the Hell’s Kitchen restaurant on the corner of Ninth Avenue and West 39th street, where on Sunday you can grab brunch before or after your shopping excursion. Or try the pizza at Capizzi near Port Authority, grab a coffee at Joe on 23rd and 9th or venture north along Ninth Avenue to try the hot new restaurants and bars that have helped make Hell’s Kitchen the hottest neighborhood in Manhattan.