Vintage Bazaar at the Congress Theater, Chicago 2011

Liz and I had a busy morning on Sunday. We woke up, fed the bunnies, showered, and made our way over to Lula Cafe for an early breakfast at 9AM sharp. Then, full of food and hopped up on coffee, we jumped on the Milwaukee bus and made our way towards the Congress Theater to attend the Vintage Bazaar.

On arriving, we spotted the outdoor portion of the event. The last time the event was here, everyone was inside on the main floor… but from what we heard, they were extending the space (possibly to accommodate more vendors).

Vendors, setting up shop in the street between the theater and the parking lot.

For the past week or so, I’d been in contact with the event organizers, Libby and Katherine. The two of them have liked my blog recaps from past events, (and liked my photos enough to include them on a recent write-up they did for Dwell). For today’s event, they were kind enough to invite me to skulk around behind the scenes, prior to the doors opening to the public.

The main foyer to the Congress is always breathtakingly huge. A few vendors got some prime spots, right by the doors. This photo doesn’t do the space justice, as the ceilings are super high and the whole room is just massive.

And that’d be Liz, standing on the stairs taking a shot of the room.

In the main corridor, looking into the main room where all the vendors are set up.

On the floor. My first thought was: wow, there’s not a lot of vendors here. But then I remembered how crowded things were, the last time the event was here, and figured this was a conscious decision to allow for greater foot traffic. As I’d see when the crowds rolled in, having more room for foot traffic was a good decision.

From the stage, looking out and down onto the floor.

Clothes, and a highlighted dress.

Back in the main entryway, I hopped up on the stairs (around near where Liz was, originally).

A darker shot, but should give you a sense of the vastness of the room.

I made my way up to the balcony area, and got a few shots looking down at everyone. There had been two concerts the past two nights, and the upstairs was still in a bit of disarray. The view was pretty great, though.

The balcony at the Congress. Again, I’m wishing I could convey how massive this room is. The domed ceiling is a sight to behold.

The folks at the front desk, waiting for the doors to open up. This was about 5 minutes before the event officially started.

Outside the entrance.

I kept going in and out, checking on the ever-growing line down the street. This was moments before the doors opened up.

Visitors, paying the $2 entry fee.

Folks getting an “X” on their hands.

Within a few short moments, the front desk was a frenzy of activity. As people were waiting to get inside, vendors were making their way through with armloads of stuff… trying to get back to their booths, before the big rush.

On browsing the booths near the entrance, one of the first things that caught my eye were these classic board games.

An old flowerpot, with some even older Bingo cards.

One of many crate diggers I’d see, throughout the event.

All of the above images are from Emerald Avenue Antiques. It’s run by Kathleen Hughes and Kevin Henry. You can contact them here.

// Note: I’m going to try to include vendor info at the end of each set of images. There’s a lot of stuff, so I’ll try to make it clear who’s who.

Near the entrance, I saw a guy setting up the lighting for his booth. My initial impression was that it was a kind of “themed” booth, and that these guys were similar to Manly Vintage.

Vendors, setting up camp outside their areas.


When I circled by the booth maybe 40 minutes later, the Sesame Street lunch box was gone.

I love that this is called Barbie’s Friend Ship.

An old United Airlines Barbie setting. Sadly, I bet I know what her outfit looks like.

Sort of related: Star Trek Barbie & Ken.

A plethora of Hanna-Barbera merchandise!

Some old notebooks and an old style ruler (like the kind Bob favors).

It’s always a tough choice between Jesus and pinball.

I always find the mannequin displays at the Vintage Bazaar oddly compelling, and always tend to photograph them.

More old style rulers.

Some neat looking retro headphones.

All of the above images are from Jet Set Vintage.

was once again handling the music for the event.

I didn’t realize it at first, but on the other side of Jesus was yet another pinball machine! Or rather, a Pachinko machine.

Closeup shot. I learned from the vendor that the machine actually lit up, but the cord needed a converter. He also claimed that you could light up the machine simply by hooking up a 9V battery to it.

Nearby, a sleek looking dog. I kept trying to figure out if it served some kind of function (a hat or shoe rack, perhaps). I ended up determining it was likely just decorative, as there was no way someone could sit and try to ride that thing like a pony.

Look – it was a fleeting thought. Let’s move on.

Old school terrarium. That packaging just screams vintage.

All of the above images are from Uber Modern.

A lot of booths had something visually striking, that was designed to make you pause. For some reason this chair caught my eye, and made me hesitate…. and eventually pulled me in for a closer look.

Found a few cool kaleidoscopes. As I was looking at each one, the vendor pointed me to an item on a nearby desk.

The guy at the end (with pink circles) was actually also a kaleidoscope!

Not a great shot, but this is what it looked like on the inside. Trying to get a shot of the interior reminded me of Jen Stark’s paper Art, and specifically her “Peephole” pieces.

The above images are from archifresh.

Nearby furniture. The symmetry of the chairs and lamps got me.

A pair of lounge chairs. All the furniture was from Cercis.

Nearby was a booth featuring recycled and reconstructed clothing. I didn’t look around much myself, but felt like it was worth noting because there was a ton of activity going on. Lots of folks checking things out.

If you’re curious to see more, check out Bad Lands (run by Kathleen Alvarado and Jennifer Polus).

Remember when I saw a sign for Joe’s Barbershop and thought it was just a booth? Totally wrong.

Turns out, it was an actual barber shop setup! You could get your hair cut, or get a leather straight razor shave!

Note the classic Sailor Jerry spiced rum sign, to boot!

On the other side of the wall, I saw a guy actually sitting and getting his hair cut! What an awesome idea for a booth at the Bazaar.

For more info, check out the website for Joe’s Barbershop. And if you’re in the Chicago area and decide you need a trim or a shave, they’re located at 2641 W. Fullerton.

A lot of the booths near the entrance were either service or food oriented. Puffs of Doom (what a great name) was serving up cream puffs and iced coffee.

A small sampling of the cream puffs. Sounds like there’s some kind of food truck or bike component to their stuff? Must find out more.

You can find Puffs of Doom (Rebecca VanderKloot) on Facebook and Twitter.

Nearby was Gunslinger Jerky. They had a few different flavors or display, but I’m sad to say that I was in too much of a rush and didn’t try a sample out.

The man in black chewed across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. And hey, another Sailor Jerry mention!

Another great booth idea: Jaycie Kurfess set up shop, offering custom makeup and hair to event-goers.

Makeup done for $10, eyelashes for $5, and a retro hairstyle for $10. Not bad at all, and there were a decent number of folks lined up waiting for their turn. There was also a photographer nearby, snapping shots of customers once they were done.

Tools of the trade…

Two women, getting makeup done.

A woman, getting her hair rolled up…

An old, rusty bike. I can’t help but think of Mike Wolfe, and wondering if this guy is worth $200.

I recognized this horse from a very symmetrical booth I saw at the Pilsen event. I didn’t bother to grab a card because I figured I could just refer back to my old blog post. Turns out… I didn’t find out the vendor’s name. Doh!

More mannequines!

Wandered around a bit, and spotted this King Kong. Not 100%, but I think this was from Jet Set Vintage.

As more people arrived to fill up the interior, it started to get pretty crowded. What looked to me, earlier, like a lot of open space ended up being critical in allowing folks to move around the booths. While I originally thought that there weren’t many booths on the floor, with the people milling about… it was smart to have all that extra space.

Even so, it began to get pretty full inside so I decide to head out the side door to Rockwell Street, to check out the booths outside.

Along the wall, I found a series of old molds going for $40 each. I desperately wanted to have a reason to buy these, but sadly… I have no ceilings or walls I needed to decorate.

The molds belonged to the woman running a nearby booth, where she had a lot of jewelry set up.

She also had this delightful Electromatic Facial Patter, whose apparent function was to… pat your face?

Liz, giving the facial patter a test drive. The woman assured us it worked, and offered to let us take it to a nearby outlet to try out. I turned it down, as I was just happy having found something so weird and odd.

I asked the woman for her info, but she didn’t really have a site or email. She told me she was a doctor, and that she just did the vintage stuff as a hobby, on the side.

Along the street, I ran into Robyn and Joe, from Take 2 Vintage. It was Robyn who recognized me first, and (embarassingly) it took me a second to realize who she was. While I have a fairly public blog, it always catches me off guard me when folks recognize me due to my site. A pleasant surprise, but a surprise all the same.

As I was taking a photo of this bicycle piece, there was a guy who was checking it out and close to buying it.

Some neat, framed art pieces. I tried doing a search for the words on the left (which I think are in German), but haven’t found a translation yet. I think it says: Till god bän är vägen gen.


Some cool metal storage boxes and filing slots.

A very cool windmill piece – very clean, very sparse.

In talking with Robyn and Joe outside their booth, they seemed very pleased with the event. It was only a few hours into the start, and they were happy with the turnout and the crowds.

As we chatted, I found out that Robyn and Joe are having a yard sale soon. When I heard this… my ears perked up. They were having a yard sale? Joe told me that they had enough stuff at their place to fill 10 booths, and were looking to just get rid of some things. Too much clutter, too many things accumulated.

I immediately thought of my friend Maureen’s book, and the struggles collectors have with stuff, particularly with storing the things they haven’t sold.

If you’re in the Logan Square area and want to see what a REAL yard sale looks like, stop by 2913 W Lyndale Street on October 1-2, from 10AM to 4PM. I’m betting that Robyn and Joe have some killer, killer stuff.

Above images are from Take 2 Vintage. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Nearby, I found a booth run by The Owl Lady (aka Amy). As I was photographing her stuff, I told her: You have a very specific collection.

I learned that Amy’s grandmother was “a little obsessed with owls,” and that Amy later inherited her grandmother’s collection. Over time, she’s sold off many of the originals… but according to her, owls tended to have a way of finding her.

At a nearby booth, I had another “someone recognized me” moment – the folks from Apartment 528. They remembered the video I took of their laserdiscs (or are they called videodiscs?), and let me know that they actually sold all of them.

Someone ended up buying the actual player along with a few discs. Then, the next day, they called and bought the rest of the movies outright. Sounded like the person was pretty into them.

As I was leaving work on Friday, I mentioned to Angie that I was heading to this event over the weekend. She said she was on the lookout for a vintage radio and I was kind of on the lookout. Spotted this guy which, in hindsight, is pretty killer. I love how clean this looks…

On the same shelf, spotted a few more classic radios.

A pair of chairs, and a classic TV. Something about these two objects together triggered a wave of nostalgia in me.

The above images are from Apartment 528. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

A view down Rockwell, looking towards Milwaukee.

Near the Rockwell/Milwaukee intersection I spotted Liz Rench (our bunnysitter) at the Bummertown booth. They’ve got a great tagline: Happy Clothes for Sad People.

If something like this doesn’t tell you you’re at a Vintage Bazaar, I don’t know what will.

A lot of folks were checking out the clothes. For more info on Bummertown, you can check them out on Etsy or look over their blog.

After nearly two hours inside, I finally made my way over to the parking lot.

More terrariums!

These guys were pretty great. I actually didn’t even see or ask about prices – I just saw the terrariums and immediately got drawn in, started taking pictures.

Hanging gardens. Well, sorta.

The above images are from alapash. More info on their blog.

An owl that found me. I took a photo of this guy, then went back to show it the Owl Lady. She didn’t seem to care that much for it, but I got pulled into that “once you see something, you start seeing it everywhere” zone.

Some furniture, setup along the perimeter of the grounds.

More vinyl, more crate diggers.

There was a girl sifting through a box of old photographs, and I snapped a shot of her sorting through pictures. I talked to her a bit about the photos, and was trying to figure out if she was looking for a specific image, or just browsing.

I seriously could have pulled up a chair and spent an hour or more, going through each and every photo. I love this kind of thing. But after having purchased a whole box of photographs, I’m wary of getting sucked into buying more. I love being able to peer into other people’s memories, but should probably avoid starting to collect them.

A vendor, waiting. I really liked this shot, with the contrast between the patterns of the clothes, the pattern of the girl’s sweater, and the pattern on the chair. Though after seeing the photo on my screen… it was definitely better in my head.

More vintage furniture, neatly in a row.

Booth and mural, outside the Congress Theater.

After about 3 hours, Liz and I called it quits and were waiting for the Milwaukee bus to take us back home. At a nearby bar, I spotted yet another reference to Sailor Jerry.

Across the street, I spotted someone who had just come from the Vintage Bazaar. Call it a hunch.

This event was by far the biggest Vintage Bazaar we’ve attended, with more space and more vendors. I thought the addition of booths like Joe’s Barbershop and Makeup by Jaycie was a great idea, and added a cool spin to the event.

I ran into Katherine and Libby a few times (again, they recognized me first before I realized who they were). Each time I saw them they both looked incredibly busy – usually with other people around them, either asking questions or taking direction. I have to believe that organizing and running such an event must be incredibly taxing, giving them little time to actually enjoy the day and the culmination of all their hard work.

I was kind of obsessive with my documenting, and try as I might… there was still a ton of stuff I didn’t get to see. As the Vintage Bazaar gets more and more popular, its size is seemingly growing to match the interest. I wonder how big it’ll get, and what the next venue will be.

Thanks again to Libby and Katherine for allowing me to roam around, before the show began. It’ll be fun to watch all the photos and blog recaps, in the coming days.

Vintage Bazaar, Pilsen
Vintage Bazaar At The Congress Theater, 2010
The Vintage Bazaar: Lincoln Square

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Hey Felix! As usual, FANTASTIC job covering the event! Thank you so much for the promo for the yard sale – and we will DEFINITELY be checking out Maureen’s book.

    BTW – the text on the print of the guy riding the horse is in Swedish (we think) and there was a translation on the back, which I’m pretty sure was “The road to a good friend is always short.”

    Hope to see you soon!
    Robyn & Joe

    Robyn Reply

  2. Thanks for the mention and pics of my stuff! I never got a chance to look at all the other wonderful vendors and all the cool vintage stuff inside. Thanks for being so comprehensive in your coverage. :)

    The Owl Lady

    amy mortensen Reply

  3. Jeez–wish I could have been there. Great photo-tour. Was waiting to see if anyone was selling Sea Monkeys, a great 1970s object if there ever was one. Love the face patter. I could use that, maybe with students as a head patter when they’ve done a good job. Thanks Felix, for the great show, and for your generous sharing the word about my book. Mo

    Maureen Reply

  4. Thank you so much for the coverage of the event. Being a vendor it is very rare I get to stray far from my booth and this keeps me up on the competition! hahaha. On a serious note, it’s nice to see my friends booths that I don’t get to see! Thank you everyone who came out and braved the bad smells (stale beer, fresh beer is so much better) and the weather. Libby, Katherine and crew, you have done it again! We love you and thank you for all your hard work!

    Leah Onomatopoeia Reply

  5. Killer event. These ladies did an outstanding job. They understand the market and the power of hard work.

    Max the Boo Dog Reply

  6. Awesome recap! I never got a chance to leave my booth and see the other vendors inside but after reading this, I feel like I was right there! Thanks for including our booth. See you again next time :)

    Apartment 528 Reply

  7. Wow…I’d love to attend next time & sell. I’m a vendor on Etsy so I’d love to do this in person once in awhile & meet some faces that actually love my items. Sounds like you had a lot of fun.
    Please get back to me if you know of another one coming soon.

    Thanks for sharing.

    The Vintage Road 2 Retro

    Carol Reply

    • Hi Carol. There’s another event coming up November 11th – 13th, run by the same folks. You can view their site for more info, and even have vendor applications for you to fill out.

      avoision Reply

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