I spent this past Sunday at Eastern Market taking pictures.
My upcoming article for Try Handmade is all about the market, and it’s history and role in the Capitol Hill community (oops, was that a spoiler alert? does anybody care?!). There was a time when I used to go to Eastern Market pretty much every weekend…my roommates and I would get fresh flowers, eat the amazing and legendary Market Lunch, and browse the handmade goodies and flea market finds. (All these photos are from this weekend’s visit.)
It was great fun back then, but I think more than half of my enjoyment was due to my extreme love of “retail therapy.” I wasn’t a shopaholic by any means, but I sure was reckless (and sometimes indiscriminate) with a credit card. I don’t think I ever visited Eastern Market in the past without buying something.
I was gleeful about buying things just in general, but acquiring the interesting and unique things only available from places like Eastern Market was particularly satisfying for me. I have the vintage glassware collection to prove it! This time was a little different. Not that I didn’t see (literally) dozens of things I wanted to buy, but the visit was fulfilling for a different reason.
First of all, since I’ve been working on Holland Cox full time, my urge to randomly buy things has waned significantly. I don’t have that need for “retail therapy” like I used to (these days, fabric is really the only thing I truly pine for). I definitely saw a ton of jewelry and hats and clothing and yes, vintage glassware that I really wanted on Sunday, but not being able to buy them didn’t pain me the way it would have back then.
I think it’s because this time around, since I’m not so focused on acquiring things, and I don’t have the disposable income to just spend without thinking the way I used to, it’s a lot easier for me to really think about why a certain thing appeals to me. Being more thoughtful about my attraction to something makes me appreciate it even more, and the end result is that I enjoy just looking at them. So much more than I used to. More than I would have, had I just whipped out my credit card and dropped it in a shopping bag.
I can’t tell you how often I used to go on a shopping spree, and then just let the stuff I bought sit in its bag in my bedroom, sometimes for weeks. So wrong, I know!!! Ugh, it sort of makes me sick to think about it, now. Anyway, this past Sunday, there was none of that going on. I knew going in that I wasn’t going to be buying anything (first of all, I was there to take pictures and chat with artists for the blog; secondly, I’m in the middle of dealing with a pricey car emergency, so no random purchases for me). But I swear, I had the best time at Eastern Market I ever have!
It certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve been there when the weather was perfect. It certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve been there that I saw dozens of handmade and antique things that I fell in love with. But this time, I actually talked with the artists and the antique dealers. I asked questions about how something was made, where photographs were taken, how certain treasures were found. I took time to study the things that caught my eye, really look at them, and identify what it was that drew me to it. It was really nice to connect with the artists and vendors that way, and I feel like I learned a little bit about myself, too.