A flea market where you can find fab 50s furniture? Natasha Goodfellow goes shopping in Bethnal Green
It's 10.30 and York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, has been taken over by vintage dealers. But there's not a frock or a headscarf in sight - this is all about finding unique, affordable vintage items for your home.
The fair, dubbed The Vintage Furniture Flea, is the brainchild of Judy Berger, the force behind the Affordable Vintage fashion Fairs, first held five years ago, and was inspired by a fleamarket in Brooklyn where Judy's brother lives. 'I've become as interested in homewares as I am in fashion,' she says. 'I like to think my fairs helped popularise vintage fashion - before that vintage fairs were a bit 'look but don't touch' - and I want to do the same now for vintage furniture.'
There's a lot to look at. Around 30 dealers are taking part and as well as furniture there are vintage textiles, glassware, Fat Lava ceramics, more pineapple-shaped icebuckets than you could shake a swizzle stick at and some fabulous cocktail glasses and accessories.
The first thing to catch my eye is a beautiful 1950s Austin Sweet teak sideboard, priced at a very pocket-friendly £160. Hmm, I think. But by the time I've walked around the hall once - it's gone. It's the same story with a late 60s rocket lamp, ticketed at £90 and sold for £80 just before I get there. On the stage, a funky Kenneth Townsend tile with a goggle-eyed owl on it is a tempting £10. Maybe later I think. Alas, when later comes, it's already gone.
In the first half hour there are over 150 people through the doors and sold stickers are being slapped on items fast. There are G-Plan coffee tables for £40; 60s glass cabinets for £95; woven plastic bucket chairs for £35 and a pair of deckchairs with original stripey fabric for £50. At the upper end, there are Ercol day beds for £525 and a fabulous curved 50s bar in cream leather with two stools for £450.
'We're trying to keep things as affordable as possible,' says dealer and fruniture maker Scott McNeely. 'Vintage furniture can be overpriced, especially in London.' If you're reading this today - Sunday 21st November - there's still time to get down there - the fair is open until 4.30. If not, the next is scheduled for 27th March - start drawing up a shopping list now!