As you know, I’ve got a thing for Randolph Street Market. In fact, my green bejeweled dress that I wore to a recent party was a treasure that I found from the market. It fit in perfectly among the high fashion ensembles of all the attendees. So if you are looking for some amazing statement pieces, Randolph is certainly worth checking out. (P.S.-I’m sure a picture of me in this dress if floating all over the internet but for now you’ll have to use your imagination)
Recently I had a chat with Creative Director Graham Kostic and founder of Randolph Street Market Sally Schwartz and we talked all things vintage, new happenings with the market, and tips on how you can score some rare finds this weekend. Plus, they share with me some of their favorite Randolph finds. The dynamic duo has some exciting new surprises to look out for including the reveal of 10 Randolph Street Market treasure hunters. I’ll give you a hint, these 10 treasure hunters are experts in the market and know how to traverse the space for amazing finds so use these influencers as your guide to shopping the market.
Without further ado, let’s hear from Sally and Graham!
Sally Schwartz-Founder of Randolph Street Market
TCL: Tell us about the origins of Randolph Street Market. How did it come about?
SS: I was a party planner and decorated theme parties using actual props. I used to travel to cornfields to gather props for events and after visitng the Portobello Road & Spittlefields markets in London, I felt that a world-class city like Chicago should have a market too. I approached the West Loop organization and they were all in on the concept.
TCL: What did the early days of Randolph Street Market look like?
SS: We started as the Chicago Antique Market – An Urban Treasure Hunt! on Memorial Day in 2004 w Sunday only markets through October on Randolph Street. Our higher end antiques dealers were inside Hoops The Gym, which was where Michael Jordan worked out right next to his restaurant One Sixtyblue(now bellyque). No one came into the West Loop, a lot of people didn’t know where it was. The Neighborhood was not referred to as Fulton Market it was called the Randolph Street Market District. The event was very bare bones but a novelty because it was new. It was 100% antiques dealers when we started and the crowd was mostly older.
TCL: What type of crowd comes to Randolph Street Market?
SS: Very diverse culturally, we say from” Birkins to Burkas, Tiffany to Tattoos” it’s truly Chicago’s flagship market, we fill a lot of hotel rooms and all generations can enjoy. College kids bring their visiting parents, grandparents bring their grandkids, moms and daughters love shopping for prom dresses and housewares, dads and sons come looking for vintage tools vinyl and baseball cards. Newelyweds come before and after the weddings, with and without their visiting wedding guests.
TCL: For first time visitors, what can they expect with their first go-round at the market?
SS:Everything that was made well and has survived since around the late 1800’s but tons of cool objects, furnishings, art, fashion and jewelry from the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, vintage in the absolute best MINT condition, designer labels Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, our vendors get the first call when estates are being cleared out of the best homes throughout the Midwest.
TCL: What’s your favorite “treasure” you found at the market?
SS: A cubist oil painting for $75 that I had cleaned and found out it was by a well known 1940’s artist. Also a fun working roulette wheel cigarette lighter for my collection of lighters.
TCL: Hi Graham! We already know that you love some Randolph Street Market but what is it that you like most about treasure hunting here?
GK: I’m a natural-born treasure hunter and always on the hunt for the diamonds in the rough. RSM has plenty of those and finding them is half the fun.
TCL: Can you share with us some tips and strategies for finding some of those hidden gems in the market?
GK: One sweep around never unfolds the best finds. It’s always on your second and third lap when you start seeing the things that really stand out to you. My one rule of thumb: if something speaks to you, buy it. Things move fast and the ones that got away still haunt me!
TCL: What is it about Randolph that sets it apart from other markets?
GK: Markets are an age-old, tale-as-old-as-time tradition. And the classic antique market is fabled across the world as being one of great culture, interesting personalities and untouched treasures. RSM brings that iconic antique market feel with a groovy festival vibe—it’s that juxtaposition of old and new that makes RSM a melting pot of cultures, diversity and objet d’art. I love that contagious energy.
TCL: What can we expect from your role as Creative Director?
GK: We’re channeling a more fun vibe for all our branding materials. This summer, we’re unveiling our RSM Treasure Hunters: 10 loyal RSM fans who are sharing their favorite finds to promote our May through September season. I love hearing the stories behind treasured objects that people find—and their are plenty of stories for me to tell!
TCL: What’s your favorite treasure that can be found at the market?
GK: Southloop Loft has a beautiful brass money box with a lock and key. I absolutely do not need it. But I absolutely can’t live without it.