New Haven-based independent boutique Strange Ways held its first vendor market last Saturday.
The boutique’s “Flair Fair,” which took place in Lyric Hall on Whalley Avenue, showcased a variety of vintage trinkets alongside items from a dozen independent designers and sellers. With New Haven-made wares as well as objects from further afield, the event’s affordable price point attracted indie enthusiasts from across the Northeast, according to organizers and attendees.
“I’ve been trying to support more local designers and artists, many of whom have done pop-up events in the store,” Strange Ways’ founder Alex Dakoulas said. “It got to the point where we wanted to get everyone together [and do a fair].”
He explained that the vendor market was an “extension of the storefront” of Strange Ways. After working as a graphic designer for brands such as Converse and Puma, Dakoulas founded Strange Ways in 2014 as an online store. Last year, the boutique’s first brick-and-mortar storefront opened its doors on Whalley Avenue.
Emphasizing the city’s rich history and growing arts scene, Dakoulas said he hoped the boutique would “draw people into New Haven.”
“This is my attempt to do a one-day event to see if New Haven is interested,” he added, noting the regularity of similar pop-up fairs in cities with more established underground art scenes such as Boston and Brooklyn. “I hope we can bring more underground art to New Haven in the future.”
Chris Chew, co-founder of “Gentlepersons gently” — an online store that sells zines and patches — said the event exceeded his expectations, adding that he enjoyed meeting other “creatives” from the Northeast whose work he had previously admired online.
“As a local young creative, it’s inspiring to see someone pull off such an event in New Haven,” Chew said, citing Dakoulas as an inspiration. “Many people think you have to move to NYC and L.A., where more of these things happen.”
Yale students who visited the market expressed enthusiasm about the newly renovated Lyric Hall, labeling it the “perfect venue” for such a fair.
“The vendors were very willing to talk to us about what they had made,” Katherine Hong ’19 said.
Cecilia Crews ’19, who is from New Haven, said she was pleased to hear her friends’ excitement about New Haven’s offerings beyond the “Yale bubble.”
Chew commended Dakoulas and Strange Ways for bringing creative energy to New Haven, and drawing a wider audience from across New England to the store. Chew said Dakoulas has been a “central part of the popularity of pins and patches.”
“When you think of people making art or things themselves, [you think] it’ll be at higher price points. We have art prints, pins and patches that have had a modern resurgence and are still very affordable,” Dakoulas said.