The term “diamond in the rough” certainly applies to what visitors experience every third Wednesday of the month at the Paradise Flea Market in Cape Coral. There is the typical assortment of longtime family possessions and novelties that one would expect to find. Yet, the added presence of untraditional and unorthodox offerings for this kind of forum — from new handmade artist works to entrepreneurs offering women’s fashion and beauty products to rare coin providers — bring added dimensions to the monthly event at the Cape Coral Yacht Club Community Park ballroom.
After being shut down since last December due to the pandemic, the fourth annual edition returned to the venue on Sept. 15, with 15 separate vendors, and will continue Wednesday, Oct. 20, and on the third Wednesday of each month after that.
Kyle Karczewski, senior recreation specialist with Cape Coral Parks and Recreation, says the event has drawn upwards of 40 separate vendors in the past during busy season and he hopes to make it a year-round event except for June and July.
Annie Griesser sees her participation as a vendor here, the park’s Sunset Celebrations, and at other flea markets and antique shows partly in a sustainability light.
“I love to see things reused, not thrown away,” she said, while offering Betty Boop animated character figures and Barbie dolls along with clothing and fashion accessories passed to her from her mother.
“She especially liked Betty Boop and her hair was so much like the character,” she said. “Her friends said she looked like her!”
Along with many of his tools, she also shows Japanese cultural memorabilia from her father’s visits to the country during his service in the Korean War.
“It’s our family’s history,” said Griesser, who moved to this area from Green Bay nine years ago. “I’ve made so many new friends with other vendors and visitors. I’m thrilled to see the joy of people when they see something they like.”
Amid her handmade pillows and towels, embroiderer Debbie Kessler-Woodward of Sew Deb Creations also offers special ways to enjoy the holidays ― Santa’s Magic Keys embedded in the pockets of tiny pillows and indoor “snowballs” made of stuffed fleece.
“There are no chimneys or snow in Florida,” she said, adding another benefit of the snowballs she creates is that “when you throw them, they won’t break anything.”
Cape residents Myra Kinnaird and Christine Onorevole, both direct sales representatives of $5 Paparazzi Jewelry, shared a vendor table filled with the company’s rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets, necklaces and more accessories.
“All the jewelry is lead- and nickel-free,” said Kinnaird. “It’s fun fashion on a budget.”
Before or after browsing, visitors can enjoy having a bite or beverage across the street at the Boat House Tiki Bar & Grill or catching some rays on the Yacht Club’s beach.
Vendors, which traditionally also include painters and purveyors of sports and music memorabilia during busy season, are socially distanced from each other within the ballroom’s 6,000 square feet of space and masks are encouraged for all.
Griesser also likes the camaraderie that exists among vendors.
“We support and talk up each other,” she said.
If you go
What: Paradise Flea Market
When: The third Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The next one will be Wednesday, Oct. 20
Where: Cape Coral Yacht Club Community Park ballroom, 5819 Driftwood Parkway.
Cost: Free admission. Vendor tables: $20. Vendors must register in advance.
More info and to register: 239-574-0806. Capeparks.com