Downtown Flea Market

A woman walks along Spring Street, where hundreds of people gathered for downtown's first flea market Sunday. (Marisa Gerber/ Los Angeles Times / July 28, 2013)

A woman took a break from her Sunday afternoon jog to investigate the unusual bustle at the parking lot along Spring Street.

She spotted a high schooler wearing a red T-shirt with the word “Volunteer” emblazoned on the back and tapped him on the shoulder.

“Excuse me, is this every Sunday?” she asked. “I’ve never seen it before.”

“This is the first time,” Neil Yanga said, smiling as he explained that a $5 wristband would give her access to all four lots of downtown’s new flea market. The market will operate the last Sunday of each month.

Behind the green fence of one of the parking lots, hundreds of people moseyed from booth to booth, eyeing their options: a pair of earrings made from antique keys for $18; a black Royal typewriter for $250;  a slightly rusted Wells Fargo sign for $235.

The crowd was sprinkled with die-hard flea marketers like Angela Park, who tries to check out every one in town.

When asked why she made the trip from the Westside, she didn't skip a beat.

“Vintage finds from Italy,” she said, pointing to the crinkled tag inside the navy eel leather purse she had just purchased for $30.

Olivia Bravo came from West Covina in search of the perfect eyeglass frames – black and vintage.

“And I like that it’s dog friendly,” she said, pointing to her two dachshunds, Oscar and Zoe.

But among the serious shoppers, were the browsers – like Kim Widdess and her miniature poodle, Chloe.

“I’m probably not getting anything, just looking,” said Widdess, who moved into a loft in the Arts District three months ago. She moved from Washington, D.C., for a job with the Special Olympics World Games and chose to live downtown so she could go to events like Sunday’s flea market.

“Coming from D.C., I kind of didn’t want the beach,” she said. “I wanted something up and coming and it totally is.”

L.A. native Robert McNellis, who makes recycled home decor and manned a booth at the event, said Sunday's good turnout brought back memories of the more bustling downtown of decades past.

"These street fair-type things are what it needs to keep its momentum,” he said.

And, in true street fair-like fashion, much of the crowd ditched the crosswalks and jaywalked back and forth across Spring Street to get from one lot to another.

A man glimpsed at an LAPD officer standing nearby and decided to chance it anyway.

“Come on, man,” the cop said, pointing to the crosswalk.

The guy laughed and responded: “Figured I’d try.”

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marisa.gerber@latimes.com