Melrose Trading Post gives introverts the chance to people-watch and thrift shop

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Melrose Trading Post gives introverts the chance to people-watch and thrift shop

Himerria Wortham

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The Melrose Trading Post is a trove of hard-to-find, hand-made and slightly strange treasures. A new location opens Saturday at Taft High School in Woodland Hills. Photo courtesy of Melrose Trading Post, Eva Crawford

Introverts would make the best spies. Observation is their secret weapon and cafes, public transportation and malls are their battlefield. The Melrose Trading Post (MTP) is an outdoor shopping paradise for Angelenos of all walks of life and a perfect location for the introvert’s observational tendencies.

Whether visiting alone or with a small group of friends, the MTP is a hangout spot appealing to all ages and a great way to spend a lazy day off. The eyes are in for a treat with the array of treasures from local artists and vintage curators. This shoppable maze is far from the smelly flea market stalls of yore.

The MTP Fairfax High School location has grown in popularity, operating since 1997 on Sundays. Recently, the founders, Pierson Blaetz and Whitney Weston, have decided to take their flea market model to the Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills, a few miles from campus.

MTP at Fairfax High School offers free parking and a $3 entrance fee, while the new location will meet on Saturdays and charge $2 admission including free parking, starting Saturday.

The grand opening, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature over 200 local vendors, a variety of food trucks with breakfast and lunch menus, as well as live jazz music and a DJ. If it is anything like its forerunner, this market will be a paradise for the senses.

The weekly flea market at Fairfax High School off of Melrose and Fairfax Ave. is best known for its carefully selected vintage clothing, jewelry, collectables, fine art, antique furniture and hand-made artisan goods. MTP is a reasonably priced market offering unique merchandise that cannot be found in a mall.

“I like the thrill of finding things,” said 32-year-old choreographer Raymond Basa, a MTP regular. “It’s like being reunited with something that is destined to be yours.”

Basa has been going to MTP now for six years. He enjoys the market because it meets weekly, allowing him to get to know some of the returning vendors.

It can take about an hour to cover the 180+ vendors that make up the market, which occupies the entire school yard — and that doesn’t include time to stop at each booth to shop.

Many of the vendors return every Sunday to sell to an audience of local business supporters. Sunny May Allison is an 11-year-old artist who found an audience for her paintings at MTP.

As the daughter of the “Detroit Trash” industrial jewelry and furniture makers, Allison’s art was discovered by shoppers who saw her paintings at her parent’s booth. She was encouraged to create more and start her own business as the demand grew for her art work.

“We are the true version of ‘Shop Local,’ the concept that corporate America has jumped on,” said co-founder Pierson Blaetz. “There are artists that live in the community that display what they create to the community.”

After admiring Allison’s paintings and all of the other treasures of the market, visitors can visit the “food court” with delectables ranging from sweet and savory crepes to Brigadeiro, a brazilian chocolate praline. A café and homemade specialty lemonade stand are other highlights among the vendors.

Taking a break with a delicious meal and drink may turn out to be the best part of the experience for the people-watching introvert. Right by the live jazz band, tables and chairs are set up on a lawn where visitors can sit and watch others as they swarm from booth to booth on their shopping spree.

All admission and vendor fees are contributed directly to the schools, as the MTP is built on a social enterprise model in which local businesses come together to support the hosting schools.

Since the opening of the market at Fairfax High School, MTP has raised over $5 million to change the school by providing jobs for the students, helping fund college scholarships, renovating the library, allowing beautification projects and creating teacher programs to name a few.

Now the owners of MTP and Taft Charter High School are hoping to do the same with the opening of MTP at the new school.