Along a row of nondescript warehouses in Chatsworth, California, a simple door opens into another world of French country décor. A narrow path winds through this showroom stacked high and low with whimsical home accessories such as a turquoise blue dresser, a vintage birdcage, a vase shaped like the Eiffel Tower, an old toolbox painted a dainty shade of pink.
At the helm is owner Ann Sayre, who caters to a growing clientele that seeks out unique finds, lovingly renovated and skillfully art directed items at her weekly Little French Flea Market.
The business began as a hobby, a creative outlet for Sayre after she left the fashion industry, where she spent 15 years as an accessories buyer for the retail chain Contempo Casuals. With the market, she was able to turn her eye for stylish esthetics to furniture. “I just started buying pieces at garage sales for myself and fixing them up. I would sell to my friends or at small flea markets.”;
She then began doing outdoor markets, in a beautiful garden setting rather than in a parking lot like most flea markets. “I wanted a more Parisian feel like the markets I’d seen in France.”; The demand became so high for her pieces, she took up space in a warehouse and began making it her own and selling on weekends. She now keeps regular hours every Friday and offers a four-day sale the fourth week of every month. She still does her big outdoor market events every few months.
Ann built a following of regular customers through word of mouth and Facebook, where she regularly posts photos of her latest offerings and reminders of her sales date. She says the majority of her customers are store owners looking for unique inventory and young new homeowners looking for stylish pieces on a budget. “We keep the prices really low. We love to move things out and see them go to happy homes and bring new things in so each sale looks totally different.”;
The pieces at the Little French Flea Market are mostly re-finished, each done in a way to give a time-worn, distressed look but with classic elegance. The style lends itself to muted colors and a lot of white and grey tones, classic to farmhouse style, but Ann playfully likes to add some unexpected color. “I like taking something like a vintage iron and painting it green, just to give it a pop.”;
Most of the items for sale are Ann’s pieces but she also has other sellers join in. Their items have to be vintage or have a vintage feel. “We have about five sellers right now. It’s great because we each have our own way of painting and refurbishing our pieces.”;
The Little French Flea Market has a French feel for sure – some might call it French country, shabby chic, cottage style, farmhouse, rustic or just good ol’ vintage. She also throws in some industrial-style pieces if they have the right look.
As for how to bring this style into your own home, Ann advises thinking outside of traditional uses. “These are fun pieces so be brave in looking at things in a new way, like using a toolbox to put washcloths in. A planter can be used for fresh fruit. Have an open mind and be free to change it up. Things don’t have to stay in the same place. We’re always changing things around in the store!”;
The Little French Flea Market is located at 9601 Owensmouth Ave, Suite 26 Chatsworth, Calif. Open every Friday 11 a.m. to– 4 p.m., the fourth weekend of the month and Thursday through Sunday 10 .m. – to 4 p.m.