A Place for the Butcher, Baker and Makers of Almost Anything
On Saturday mornings when the weather is nice, Rodger White, a 29-year-old Washington resident, dresses up and goes to do his weekly grocery shopping and to catch bargains on novelty items and crafts that pique his interest.
Unlike many people, White does not shop at a grocery store; nor does he buy his paintings out of an art store or gallery. Instead, he joins hundreds of others at a unique place on Capitol Hill, where farmers bring their goods fresh from the gardens, butchers put out freshly sliced meats and vendors set up along the streets. This is the gated flea market, Eastern Market, one of Capitol Hill’s most famous attractions.
Eastern Market , located on Seventh Street Southeast between Pennsylvania Avenue and North Carolina Street, has been serving the D.C. area since 1873. Besides fresh foods, customers can also find everything from furniture to animal sculptures out of aluminum cans.
On weekends, locals and tourists crowd the streets, some walking their dogs, others pushing strollers, and the rest hanging solo or just socializing with family and friends. Shoppers spend their time at the three different venues: South Hall, North Hall and the Weekend’s Farmer’s Market.
South Hall, located in the blue tent, is the heart of Eastern Market . South Hall opens its doors for shoppers to purchase all kinds of meats, like beef bologna, turkey legs and even quail. Other vendors in South Hall sell sweets and other baked goods. South Hall even has a flower shop and a Market Lunch for shoppers who want to grab a quick bite. Crab cakes are one of the best sellers on the menu.
With an atmosphere of a carnival without the rides, Eastern Market provides an ideal setting to just socialize, chat and shop for bargains on crafts, paintings, clothing and, what it is most famous for, its produce and meat selection.
“I love the produce selection,” says Kim Trawick of Virginia, a frequent shopper at Eastern Market. “I also love coming here because I like being outside, and this place has such an entrepreneurial atmosphere.”
Anthony Reddix, another frequent shopper at Eastern Market states: “I always come here, because Eastern Market gives you a chance to find items that you would never find in the store. Most of the things sold here are very unique. You would not be able to find them anywhere else.”
Some vendors at Eastern Market like Curtis Bauty, enjoy the market because it gives them an opportunity to sell their crafts and mingle with the shoppers. Every weekend, Bauty sets up his table underneath one of the long tents and sells his personalized light switch covers, which come with paintings or pictures of famous people like activist Malcolm X and rapper T.I .
“This is my job,” Bauty says. “I love the chance to sell what I create. I enjoy meeting new people and talking to them about what I do.” Abdul Noor, another vendor who sells clothes at Eastern Market , has been coming to the market for 15 years, and views it as his primary source of income.
“I do not just see this as an opportunity,” Noor proclaims. “The word opportunity is an understatement for me. This is my livelihood.”
Eastern Market’s venues operate at different hours. The South Hall is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays it is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Hours of operation for the Flea Market and Arts and Craft Market are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on only Saturdays and Sundays. The Farmer’s Market is also open only on Saturdays and Sundays. Its hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.