TORONTO -- One of Toronto’s most popular flea markets is set to open on Sunday for the first time in three months after being shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 2015, the Trinity Bellwoods Flea Market has been hosting a variety of vendors once a month, from small business owners to local artists and artisans. It quickly become a staple event in the community, something the owner and curator hopes will continue as the city finds its footing post-pandemic.

“I didn’t envision it being this long,” Felicia Laplume told CTV News Toronto. “So opening this weekend is a little bit of (a) mixture. Of course we are a little nervous but at the same time we are super excited.”

The last time the Trinity Bellwoods Flea Market was operational was in February 2020, as the first few Toronto cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed. Laplume said that after weighing their options, they decided it was too late to cancel the market. Instead, they told visitors not to enter if they were feeling unwell and installed hand sanitizing stations.

“That may have just been a stroke of luck that I experienced it before we all experienced it as a whole,” Laplume said.

Laplume hopes this month’s market will finds a balance between creating the warm and inviting experience that market-goers are used to while still adhering to public safety measures.

The market will open between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on June 28 at a new spacious location (638 Queen Street West, near Bathurst Street). This is what you need to know:

How will it work?

  • All vendors, staff and visitors will be required to wear face masks while inside the venue. The market will have extra masks on hand for those that do not have their own.
  • The market has decreased the number of vendors to 40 and will be limiting the number of visitors allowed to enter the venue at one time.
  • All guests will be asked to use hand sanitizer when they enter the venue. There will also be sanitizer stations throughout the market.
  • Visitors will have to follow specific floor maps to allow for greater social distancing. The center lane will be for walking, while the left and right lanes will act as a stopping zone.
  • No outside food or drinks will be allowed.maps will provide visitors a center lane for walking. A left lane and right lane will act as a stopping zone.

‘This lineup experience doesn’t have to be that horrible’

The name of this month’s market is “Line Up For Local,” a nod to the tedious pandemic process of waiting while maintaining two metres distance from everyone else in order to gain entry into an establishment with limited capacity.

But Laplume hopes the experience will be “fun and engaging.”

While it’s not uncommon for visitors to wait about 20 minutes to enter the market during the holidays, Laplume said that extra staff will be on hand to provide masks and sanitizer, mediate the line and engage with customers.

She also said that they have reached out to businesses on Queen Street West and said that if they have space in front of their storefront, they should feel free to put products out and engage with those in line.

“So if the line happens to be a block long, people can shop while they are in the line,” Laplume said. “This lineup experience doesn’t have to be that horrible. We just need to find something to engage them.”

‘Somebody has to go first’

Laplume said that Toronto, as well as other cities and towns in Ontario, have lost access to community culture during to the pandemic. She felt it was time to step up and create a blueprint for how these markets can be organized safely.

“We made it very clear with our sellers this month that this is not going to be the most amazing sales month they ever had. This is a practice in somebody has to go first,” she said.

“Someone has to jump off the cliff first to see if we land in the water okay. If we don’t make this proactive decision now, this could have detrimental, long-term effects on small business artist culture in the city.”