By: Anthony Brousseau
Piccadilly Prairie’s annual Paris Flea event may be French-themed, but its origin is purely Minnesotan.
“Back in the day, Dayton’s used to do a Paris flea market downtown,” Piccadilly owner Lacey Brooker says.
“I remember going to that as a kid and I just thought it was the coolest thing, and that was before I had done any traveling on my own, and so just to go through and see all of these pieces from Europe was really fun and really cool and a neat memory for me. I think I only went once or twice but it kind of stuck with me.
“It’s not something that they do anymore, that exists anymore, but I like to think that it’s just a small homage, throwback to that as well.”
The event, which this year runs March 1-3 at Piccadilly Prairie’s new Ridgedale location, features a mix of authentic items imported directly from France and other French- and European-inspired items.
Courtesy of Piccadilly Prairie
Brooker has “pickers” overseas collecting authentic European items, and she travels all over the U.S. to buy from antique dealers who import directly from Europe.
“I spend the entire year prior to the event buying up all of the European vintage that I can find locally that fits with what we’re doing,” she adds.
Though the event is named for Paris, Brooker says shoppers can expect items that reflect many parts of Europe.
“French flea markets or any flea markets in Europe really you’re going to get kind of a broad swath of countries that are represented, it’s not just stuff from that country for instance,” she says. And while not every item will be direct from Europe, you won’t find any cheap reproductions on the shelves of Piccadilly Prairie.
“Maybe pieces that aren’t authentically European but kind of fit with the theme,” Brooker says. “But when we pull those in we still stay very small batch and artisan-made for most of the goods. So most of it is really just unique one-of-a-kind pieces.”
Courtesy of Piccadilly Prairie
Some of the highlights of this year’s offerings include an antique wine tasting table and Turkish olive pots, which Brooker says are perfect for large floral arrangements.
This is the sixth year of the Paris Flea, and the first at the brand-new location in Ridgedale.
“The small space kind of works. It kind of makes it quaint, so that’s why we picked that one,” Brooker says. And she expects that space to be packed all weekend. Opening night attendance is capped at 250, but Brooker expects about a thousand people to visit the store over the weekend.
Besides the homage to Dayton's, why the Parisian theme in Minnesota in the middle of winter?
“Because who doesn’t love Paris? Especially in the middle of the United States, middle of the country,” Brooker says. “It’s kind of a fun theme that transcends and speaks to everyone, or speaks to a lot of people, the idea of a Paris flea market.”
Tickets for opening night are sold out, but you can join a waiting list on the Piccadilly Prairie website. The store will be open for its regular hours on Saturday and Sunday and no ticket is needed to shop those days.