Katrina Ramos White pulls open the gate of the stall that houses her family’s toy business.
It’s 8 a.m. on a Saturday at San José’s Berryessa Flea Market and dozens of other businesses are already up and running at this swap meet — one of the biggest in the country.
Ramos White and her husband, Russ White, quickly set up their stall: assembling several tables where they place rows of colorful toys of all sizes, plush figurines, board games and bright backpacks all over the stall and winding up mechanical toys so kids walking by can play with them.
Ramos White’s parents, Kim and Tony Ramos, opened up the stand in 1984 and worked there on the weekends for extra income. Monday through Friday, they both worked at Texas Instruments.
Ramos White and her siblings grew up running around the dozens of aisles of La Pulga, as the 61-year-old market is also known, making friends with the kids of other vendors. Their stall, one of more than 700 that make up the market, is now run by Katrina and Russ, who operate it on the weekends and work full-time tech jobs during the week.
“The flea market is one of those places where you can still see the same vendors' faces, you can get a bag of roasted peanuts,” Ramos White said. “It's those little parts of what made up San José's energy.”
But La Pulga is only a couple years away from closing down and restructuring itself within the new Berryessa BART Urban Village — construction of which is set to begin in the summer of 2024. San José officials and members of the Bumb family, which owns the 60 acres of land the flea market sits on, have repeatedly told vendors that the market won’t close forever, but instead will shrink to a space of just 5 acres. Office buildings, condominiums and new shops will be built on the remaining space.