The Imp and Flea – Lincoln’s Brand-New Flea Market

The popularity of flea markets has skyrocketed over the years due to the growing awareness of how shopping secondhand can help us to save money and consume more sustainably by recycling materials and reusing objects, putting less strain on our planet. At its core, a flea market is a place for vendors to sell secondhand goods. Each market varies in style and range, from vintage clothing, decorative items, antique furniture, to household items like typewriters, dishes, phones, retro clocks and artwork… the possibilities are endless!

The origin of the term ‘flea market’ is thought to derive from the French marché aux puces, a name originally given to a market in Paris during the 1800s which specialised in shabby second-hand goods that, due to the living conditions of the time, were likely to contain pesky parasites.

Today’s flea markets are a modern version of a phenomenon of exchanging goods and services that has occurred in civilized societies throughout all of history. These markets have become an ideal chance for sustainable consumption that is based on the reuse and reselling of household items.

Kitty Stephenson, founder of the Imp and Flea, is bringing the joy of flea markets to the centre of Lincoln. Working for the NHS as a Psychological Therapist helping people with mild to moderate mental health problems, Kitty found herself wanting to do something a bit different in the community. After being inspired by the secondhand gems found at Preloved In Lincolnshire on Burton Road, as well as the flea markets she enjoyed across Berlin, she felt like there was scope to bring something new to Lincoln. Already aware of other markets that exist, Kitty thought there was still an opportunity to bring more markets that focus on selling secondhand items to the community to really solidify the accessibility of purchasing preloved goods in the city centre.

“There are lots of great craft markets and food markets in Lincoln, and I do love seeing locally made crafts I think it’s brilliant, but I am just obsessed with secondhand things and I think we were missing the chance to do that Lincoln-style” says Kitty.

The Imp and Flea’s first market was held on the 23rd April at the Trinity URC Church on Garmston Street in St Martin’s Square. Kitty thought this location was perfect due to neighbouring businesses that share similar ethical attitudes, “It is right next to Happy Culture Café which I love being a carbon neutral and vegan café” Kitty explains. It is also opposite Slow Rise, a veggie-based Neapolitan pizza restaurant with a neighbouring secondhand shop on the corner. This mini hub of sustainability meant it was the perfect place to debut her market.

A variety of secondhand gems can be found at the market including clothing, a topic that has been at the forefront of Kitty’s mind since visiting Glastonbury in 2019. “It was full of Greenpeace and Oxfam workers who were asking people how many of the things they were wearing were secondhand, and it got me and my friend thinking so we pledged to not buy any new clothes for a month and that started my secondhand journey. I think prior to that I was really caught up in the fast fashion rat race culture where ‘you can’t wear the same thing twice’. Since then, I’ve just loved secondhand shopping; Depop, Facebook Marketplace, Vinted, charity shops… there are so many ways of doing it now and I really feel a sense of achievement and gratitude when I find that perfect item.”

Kitty explains one of the main reasons for starting her flea markets was in response to the global effort of putting as little into landfill as possible. As someone who does as much as she can for the planet, she is well aware that the journey to living a more sustainable life isn’t a perfect one, but any effort made big or small can really help. “You haven’t failed if you buy something new” Kitty explains, “if you’re trying that is the whole point. There might be things that you just can’t find secondhand so you have to buy it new and that’s okay, because where you can you are still trying to do your bit.” If you are not currently someone who shops secondhand, it is never too late to try your hand at thrifting those special items. “If every person that visits the market does find something or even just likes what they see, that might just inspire them to try and buy more secondhand or preloved things which is great.”

Whilst talking about secondhand shopping, it is always worth noting that some people choose to shop this way simply because they cannot afford to shop any other way. A shift of culture means that going into charity shops and similar outlets is a common activity now, but for many years there was a stigma surrounding this way of living. An increase in traffic could both be attributed to the widely accepted knowledge that there is an importance in reusing where we can, but also with the cost of living continuously rising; trying to find bargains can also be due to the decrease in disposable income for many.

If the markets are received well, she hopes she will be able to make them a regular event for the people of Lincoln to enjoy, “I’d love to do it as a seasonal or even a monthly thing. If it does go well, I had the idea of doing some other themed markets as well so we will have to wait and see!”

Although Kitty is the face behind this new flea market, she is thankful for the support of those close to her, with a special mention for @bedspace on Instagram who has designed all of the graphics for the posters and social media posts.

If you would like to find out when the next market is and keep updated, you can follow @impandflea on Instagram or find them on Facebook as Imp and Flea