upper waypoint

Vendors and Customers Rally to Save the Alemany Flea Market

Save ArticleSave Article
Failed to save article

Please try again

Person holds a vintage camera to their face surrounded by housewares and other used objects
A potential customer checks out wares at the Alemany Flea Market in 2016. (Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Update, 10:00 a.m. Saturday: Supervisor Hillary Ronen announced on social media that the Alemany Flea Market will not be cut from the city budget for at least the next year. “Thank you to the outpouring of community members who spoke up to defend the market,” she wrote. “Your advocacy made a difference!”

Original story, 12:38 p.m. Friday: Vendors at San Francisco’s Alemany Flea Market and their loyal customers are rallying to save the weekly event at 100 Alemany Blvd., which is in danger of being eliminated by upcoming city budget cuts.

After a week of emails and phone calls to supervisors and city representatives, it seems the flea market’s supporters have made an impact. The City Administrator’s Office provided a statement to KQED that it is “working with the Mayor’s Office to maintain funding, including long term solutions, for the Flea Market.”

The City Administrator’s Office stated that the flea market has been “operating at a deficit for some time.” City departments have been tasked by Mayor London Breed with cutting 10% of their general operating expenses to help close an $800 million deficit over the next two years.

Rico Duenas, a regular flea market attendee who grew up going every Sunday with his family, was shocked to learn, only through word of mouth, that the event might be eliminated from the city’s budget. “I don’t understand how it could have just ended,” he said. “No one would have said anything, and it just would be gone one day, which is crazy to me.”


The Board of Supervisors is expected to finalize the budget in July, and the mayor will sign it into law. The public can provide comment on the annual budget at the Budget and Appropriations Committee meeting on Monday, June 24, at 10 a.m.

The Alemany Flea Market is the scruffier sibling of the Alemany Farmers’ Market, which occupies the same lot and stalls on Saturdays. The flea market’s size has contracted since the pandemic, but any given Sunday sees hundreds of attendees roaming the eight-hour event.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, whose district includes 100 Alemany Blvd., is against ending the flea market.

“I fully support the Alemany Flea Market, and will oppose any attempt to eliminate it through any proposed cuts in the current budget or otherwise,” Ronen said in a statement to KQED. “The flea market is a historical and cultural San Francisco landmark that plays an important role in the economic security of people who sell and buy at the weekly market, supporting small businesses and individuals in District 9 and Citywide.”

In a video posted to social media, Jon Rolston, owner of a junk hauling service and a frequent vendor at the flea market, urged his many followers to contact their city representatives. “That flea market is 100 small business owners, and they in turn sell to another 100 small business owners,” he said. “All those cool shops that people love to go to … where do you think that stuff is coming from? It’s coming from the flea market.”

The Alemany Flea Market is managed by the city’s Real Estate Division. Since the abrupt closure of the Fulton Plaza Gift Gallery on April 1, the Alemany Flea Market remains the only city-managed venue for the sale of used goods. Stalls cost vendors $50 each.

Concern about the future of the flea market began in early March, when the Real Estate Division released a request for proposals to manage 100 Alemany Blvd.

The RFP, though standard enough, put flea market vendors and customers on edge: nowhere in the 78-page document was there mention of the Sunday flea market. The Saturday farmers’ market, meanwhile, was enshrined within the proposal. (The address was referred to throughout by the shorthand “Alemany Farmers’ Market Property.”)

The Real Estate Division did not receive any responses to the RFP, even after extending the deadline for an additional 10 days past the original April 12 due date.

The flea market didn’t always operate at a deficit. A 2010 audit shows that the flea market created $255,644 of net revenue; combined with the farmers’ market, the Alemany markets sent $424,243 back into the general operating fund.

For lifetime customers like Duenas, it’s difficult to quantify the value of the flea market, which he grew up referring to as “church.”

“I understand that cities change, but can’t we keep some of the old?” Duenas said. “Everything doesn’t have to be this shiny new park, this shiny new thing. This is a trash flea market, but it is a part of the community.”

lower waypoint
next waypoint