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Sunday Jan. 23 was a typical January morning in Georgetown: 38 levels, bustling with life and never sunny, however not fairly cloudy. 

As college students, younger {couples} and households roamed the purple brick streets in search of a breakfast pastry and a morning espresso, many funneled towards a well-known landmark: the Georgetown Flea Market.

“If there’s a downpour or a blizzard, we propose you go to the films,” the flea market’s web site bluntly proclaims. “In any other case, come on down! There can be distributors.”

The Georgetown Flea Market is open each Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is a spot favorited throughout town by a weird conglomeration of fashionistas, craftspeople, collectors of all collectibles and sports activities followers. 

“Within the final two years, the scholar inhabitants coming by way of right here has actually simply kicked this complete market up,” mentioned Brian Hawkins, a daily vendor on the market. “Should you discuss to different sellers … they’ll inform you a similar factor.”

Nestled in a parking zone off of Wisconsin Ave. and thirty fifth St., the flea market options dozens of pop-up stands promoting all types of used and handcrafted items since its opening in 1972. Every stand is exclusive, however practically each single one options at the very least a handful of merchandise adorned with one factor: sports activities logos.

D.C. is house to a workforce in every of America’s 4 main sports activities leagues, the storied Georgetown Hoyas and groups within the MLS and WNBA.

Sports activities have been within the air this specific Sunday morning. The NBA’s 23-23 Washington Wizards have been warming as much as face off towards — and get blown out by — the Boston Celtics at Capital One Enviornment simply over three miles from the flea market. The night time earlier than, the NHL’s Washington Capitals grabbed a house time beyond regulation win towards the Ottawa Senators at the exact same area in downtown D.C. The MLB’s Washington Nationals slept in on Sunday after just lately ending dead-last within the NL East.

The NFL’s Washington Commanders, nonetheless generally known as the Washington Soccer Workforce on the time, sat on their couches Sunday to observe the Los Angeles Rams play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Buffalo Payments play the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs. The Soccer Workforce completed third within the NFC East, so slightly than taking the sphere to compete for a Tremendous Bowl this yr, they headed to the grocery retailer to pick snacks for their very own private Tremendous Bowl events.

The district is understood for internet hosting slightly middling groups all through historical past: “Most people is not rooting for [D.C. sports] groups as a lot as town identify on their jerseys,” the late Fox Sports activities journalist Chris Chase mentioned in his 2017 article, “Washington D.C. may not be the worst sports activities city, nevertheless it’s probably the most pathetic.” 

Taking the Georgetown Flea Market as a microcosm of the D.C. sports activities fandom, Chase’s assertion doesn’t fairly maintain up.

Earlier than even coming into the flea market’s gates, the distributors’ affinity for sports activities turns into extremely obvious. Letterman jackets representing the New York Giants, the Georgetown Hoyas and NASCAR all cling from the bus cease the place the 33 bus commonly drops off keen American College customers who hopped on on the Tenleytown cease.

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Flipping by way of the racks of clothes reveals some thrilling finds for followers of most groups: a retro Seattle Seahawks Champion crewneck sweatshirt, a Golden State Warriors Hardwood Basic warmup and a Lehigh Valley Phantoms AHL jersey stand out as some enjoyable additions to any sports activities fan’s wardrobe. 

The flea market’s house metropolis, nevertheless, appears to largely be lacking from the racks, and one might begin to wonder if Chase was right in asserting the apathy of the D.C. sports activities fanbase.

Any doubt surrounding D.C. sports activities followers’ loyalty instantly dissipates upon coming into the flea market’s gates and recognizing Brian Hawkins standing together with his palms within the pockets of his Washington Redskins hoodie behind the desk at his stand, Replay Sports activities Attire.

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“I’ve been working the stand for about three years,” Hawkins mentioned. “I beforehand had a card store again within the nineties the place I collected any such stuff. It sort of simply took off once more, and I actually take pleasure in it.”

Hawkins’ stand is any retro sports activities fan’s wildest dream. If a Randy Moss Minnesota Vikings jersey isn’t engaging sufficient, stellar finds resembling an Isiah Thomas Detroit Pistons jersey, an Eddie Murray Baltimore Orioles jersey, or any variety of classic hoodies, sweaters and t-shirts can have even probably the most informal of sports activities followers stopping to browse.

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Hawkins sells his justifiable share of recent jerseys, however the actual cash is within the retro attire. “Essentially the most distinctive merchandise I’ve ever offered was a Washington Senators Frank Howard game-used jersey,” he recalled, reminiscing concerning the jersey that netted him $6,000. “He was only a Washington baseball legend.” 

Hawkins’ stand contains a nutritious diet of various groups from throughout the nation, however the unmistakable sea of purple — the first colour for every of D.C.’s 4 professional groups — dominates his racks.

Hawkins is stocked up. A Michael Jordan Wizards jersey hangs above a group of Nationals hats located subsequent to a desk lined in memorabilia that includes nearly each D.C. and Baltimore workforce — even the defunct Washington Senators and Baltimore Colts.

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Nationals and Wizards jerseys are peppered all through the racks, culminating in a whole row of vivid purple Capitals and maroon classic Washington Redskins jerseys. These are the massive sellers.

“The Capitals are most likely my hottest,” Hawkins mentioned. “The higher they do, the extra I promote. It’s a part of the equation, how nicely the groups do.”

The Capitals, comfortably in tenth out of 32 within the NHL energy rankings, are D.C.’s premier professional workforce in the meanwhile, however based mostly on flea market findings, it could be silly to consider that the district’s soccer fanbase lies dormant.

Hawkins’ stand options extra soccer jerseys and shirts than the entire different D.C. groups mixed. Clearly, nevertheless, “Washington Soccer Workforce” is just not probably the most marketable identify, as not one of the merchandise really options the then-modern branding — it’s all Redskins. Maybe the workforce’s new identification, revealed on Feb. 2 to be “Commanders” will regularly section out the outdated Redskins gear.

Hawkins additionally makes a speciality of sports activities playing cards, a market that unexpectedly boomed in the course of the pandemic. Rui Hachimura and Bradley Beal Wizards rookie playing cards line his card desk as AU graduate pupil Zach Popkin browses for brand spanking new additions to his assortment.

“I do know Brian, and I’ve been getting playing cards from him for a couple of yr now,” Popkin mentioned. “It’s a mixture of some classic sports activities playing cards and trendy playing cards, a few of them ungraded, a few of them graded. He’s acquired an important mixture of [both].”

Popkin, considered one of Hawkins’ regulars, frequents the flea marketplace for his accumulating wants, and the 2 have constructed a relationship over the previous yr. “[Zach] comes by and will get playing cards from me nearly weekly,” Hawkins mentioned. “I’ve most likely acquired a dozen or in order that come by and both purchase a jersey or playing cards from me as soon as each week or as soon as each couple weeks.”

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Leaving Hawkins’ stand, sports activities merchandise turns into rather more sporadic, however hidden gems are nonetheless plentiful — and random. A lone Baltimore Ravens jacket sits on a rack in between dozens of sequined attire. A signed Wizards Antawn Jamison plaque rests towards the leg of a desk displaying classic pottery. A VHS entitled “Michael Jordan: Come Fly With Me” is propped towards a curb beneath a rack of t-shirts. All all through the flea market, numerous sports activities gems wait to be found.

All issues thought-about, college students searching for sports activities merchandise on the Georgetown Flea Market is a mutually useful match made in heaven. The Capital One workforce retailer on the area and GT Gamers a half-mile stroll away are each choices, however each lack the affordability of the flea market, and neither has the choice of even simply Hawkins’ stand, not to mention the complete market.

Hawkins leads a busy life, however the flea market is his “most important factor,” he mentioned. “I do 4 flea markets every week. I do two in Bethesda, one in Arlington after which this one.” 

Crediting the scholar inhabitants flocking to the market from faculties like AU and Georgetown, Hawkins makes one factor very clear: “The Georgetown market is by far one of the best.”

mgacina@theeagleonline.com 


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