My Memories of the Leucadia Flea Market – Encinitas Magazine February 2016 – Words & Photos by Kyle Thomas (Stories of Encinitas CA)
Old Leucadia Flea Market – circa 1970
Officially it was the Peddlers Village, but we knew it better as the Leucadia Flea Market. It spanned from 1966 to March 7, 1984. A cultural phenomenon unique to Leucadia, it attracted regular visitors all the way from Orange County and Los Angeles. There was nothing else like it outside of Europe.
Originally the property was a greenhouse, but in 1966 the Peddlers Village took root.
For many, the Flea Market was a place where you could begin a business on a shoestring and turn it into a profitable enterprise. Myself, I began with a $250 investment, selling imported 14 karat Italian gold chain, displayed on a small rickety card table. One year later, I was surrounded by glass cases containing over one kilo of gold jewelry. This was the gateway, that lead me to learn the jewelry manufacturing arts, which became my destiny, spanning a 30-year career.
The Flea Market was known for it’s colorful and diverse characters and vendors, who to each other, were like family. I remember big Ed Johnson, who dominated the turquoise and silver jewelry market, Victoria, a petite lady with a European accent, selling fabulous antiques, Harold and Muriel, the Flea Market managers who sold beautiful Brass objects, Rosie Daley, who sold colorful hand painted clothes and later became Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef after being discovered by Oprah at a Home show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and who ended up writing a NY Times best selling cookbook. Then there was Lauren, who was the best source for Swarovski crystal, Randy Seol, the former drummer for the Strawberry Alarm Clock (Incense and Peppermints), who imported and sold exotic sea shells, and Gary Mattis, the geologists, spent most of the year in South America and then would return with emeralds and other treasures to sell.
My favorite personality was Lynne Merchant, who spent the spring and summer seasons traveling the world to areas like Afghanistan, Yemen, and France, and then would return home, and to the Flea Market, with exotic gems and jewelry. Always dressed in colorful gypsy-like clothes, and under beautifully painted umbrellas, you would never find her sitting down because she was always on her feet talking with customers telling stories of her travels and of how she came by her various treasures.
Leucadia Flea Market’s Lynne Merchant now teaching jewelry classes at her store across the street from the Belly Up Tavern, at 142 South Cedros Ave, Solana Beach
Finally, there was Kosmo and Kismo, the flea market’s residents Psychics. The two met at the Flea Market and were married three days later, on April Fools Day at Glen Park, in Cardiff. Kosmo was the last and final person remaining after the Flea Market’s final day in March of 1984, as he was hired to tear down the Flea Market, to make way for the development of the Pacifica condominium project. His promotional efforts resulted in a news broadcast covering the final days of the Flea Market, which was in turn seen by a member of the 1984 Olympic committee. Kosmo negotiated the sale of the Flea Market’s lumber, that was in turn used to build the western ghost town that the competitors rode through during the 1984 Olympic equestrian event, hosted in Fairbanks Ranch, giving it the final distinction of, “The Flea Market that went to the Olympics.”