This was my second year going to Broadway Flea Market, an annual event in September that takes place on 44th and 45th streets and Shubert Alley in New York City. All of the money raised at Broadway Flea goes to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA).
According to their website, “Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS helps men, women and children across the country and across the street receive lifesaving medications, health care, nutritious meals, counseling and emergency financial assistance. We are one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations.”
This year's flea market raised $870,167 at their tables, and BC/EFA claims their top four earning tables were the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers, Beetlejuice, Hadestown and Wicked.
If you're planning to attend a Broadway Flea in the future, take my advice, get there early. Study the map. If you want something specific, get there as early as 7:30 AM to get in line. The tables aren't supposed to start selling until 10:00 AM. In the early morning hours, the flea market is extremely crowded, and it can be challenging to get up to the tables. Especially if you want something specific. That's why I suggest getting there early.
Last year, I wanted something specific – one of four “Donna Murphy is Dolly Tonight” signs sold at the Curtain Call table, the one for recently closed shows. I was successful. This year, I was just there for fun, to see what I could find, and to see my theatre friends. I got there around 10:15 AM, and the streets were already crowded with people. It took a long time to get up to some of the tables. I never even made it up to the Curtain Call table.
Patience is key. A lot of people were very pushy, and some were rude. It was almost cutthroat just to get up to the tables and grab whatever fans could. But most people were very nice and helpful – and if you asked where they found something, they would tell you if there were more and what table. It's also great to come in groups, split up, and text each other if you find something. My friends knew to message me if they found anything Hello Dolly or Anastasia related, and I knew to text them if I found anything from Great Comet or The Cher Show.
Around 2:00-3:00 PM, when Sunday matinees began, the crowd started to clear out and it started to get easier to shop. Around 5:00PM, the tables practically started giving things away. Prices started going down, sellers were more willing to negotiate prices, and some were even giving things away. You can get a lot of stuff and not spend a lot of money. Cast recordings were $5, scripts and theatre books were $2. Or you can spend a lot of money and get bigger pieces – like billboards from closed shows, barricade covers, and signed memorabilia. Although around 6:00, I got two autographed pieces from Mean Girls for $1. (I haven't even seen Mean Girls yet, but I still feel like a shopping bag signed by the Plastics and a homework prop signed by Erika Henningsen and Jennifer Simard was worth it for $1.)
I still haven't done the autograph and photograph line, but did manage to catch Patti Murin, Princess Anna in Disney's Frozen at her table and got a selfie. Stars only appear in the morning, because many of them have matinees. There is a set price for autographs per hour, and you go in and can get all the stars' autographs per hour. For photos, there is a starting price per star and then it goes up if they're in demand. Apparently it was $100 for Bebe Neuwirth's photo. It's a great way to meet Broadway stars if you're unable to meet them at the stage door, or if they don't stage door at all, or if they're not currently in a show, but it does cost a lot.
It was really fun to see so many theatre fans come together in one day to celebrate their love of the performing arts and to collect new memorabilia. I had a lot of friends attending this year and that was the best part. I got some amazing things – like a barricade cover from Anastasia, an old photograph of Sutton Foster in her national tour debut The Will Rogers Follies, playbills featuring Julie Andrews, Carol Channing, and even Nicole Kidman – but seeing everyone was the best part.
Despite crowded streets, Broadway Flea is one of my favorite NYC events and I will certainly not be missing it again. My bank account needs some time to recover, but I already can't wait for next year!