The weekend before Halloween, often called “Halloweekend” by many college students, is typically full of an assortment of parties, events, “haunted” attractions and other spooky-themed activities for people to get their Halloween fun in before the actual holiday takes place in the middle of the week.
One such event is the SouthEast Punk Flea Market, which took place on Oct. 28-29 at the Atlanta Exposition Center. Traveling to different cities in the Southeastern states, primarily South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, the market greeted Atlanta with its first appearance in October 2022. So far, it has been back twice since.
According to the flea market’s Instagram, the two-day experience showcases “weirdo art, vinyl records, vintage clothes [and] … strange and unusual things.” With different vendors, some local and others traveling with the market, it is perfect for fans of things others might consider out of the ordinary. Attendees will get a feel of the atmosphere almost immediately as they pull into the parking lot and see a giant skeleton tube man outside the expo center as well as other attendees going in and out of the building, many in costume and others in regular punk and goth attire. The open floor of the center is packed with rows of vendors selling anything and everything: animal bones, crystals, vintage clothing for every aesthetic, vinyl records, handmade jewelry and even artwork.
Some vendors have niche goods that they specialize in, such as Skull and Keel Candles, who make small-batch candles in recycled glass soda bottles, liquor bottles, milk bottles and regular tins. Their scents can range from more common ones like lavender, sandalwood and eucalyptus to more unique ones like “cut grass,” “black currant & absinthe” and a “ginger ale” scent in which people can actually smell the bubbles of carbonation.
Other vendors have a wide array for shoppers to look at; just one booth can have chokers, enamel pins, patches, stickers, posters and rings. The collection of items available means there is something for everyone. All of the booths are run by small companies or individual artists, maintaining the flea market’s dedication to “underground art, alternative fashion and anything that surrounds the [punk] culture,” according to the market’s website.
In addition to browsing the various wares available, you can see some excellent style at the flea market. Given that the market takes place the weekend before Halloween, plenty of people show up in costumes; “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” characters can walk past a vampire as they buy cassette tapes from a pair of clowns, and no one says anything that is not some variation of “you look SO good, I love your outfit!”
Those who do not come in costume still tend to lean into the alternative fashion scene. Spikes, studs, chains, patches, pins, platforms and elaborate makeup looks are the “normal” for once, creating an automatic feeling of community just by being present.
That being said, there is no set “dress code” for the event so long as attendees are being their authentic selves. Whether dressed up in a costume, full punk attire or jeans and a T-shirt, the SouthEast Punk Flea Market is a space for everyone to enjoy.
Sunday evening marked the conclusion of this fall’s SouthEast Punk Flea Market for Atlanta. Though the date is unclear, the market is sure to return, bringing with it a lineup of new and returning artists and vendors. The market is a home for the strange and unusual and a must-visit for any fans of the underground.