Strange Xchange Brings Variety to Montclair

Montclair celebrated Small Business Saturday by holding The Strange Xchange Flea Market in the Wellmont Theater, shining the spotlight on smaller shops.

The Strange Xchange offers a plethora of varied items to excited attendees.

strange xchange
Photo by Emma Gallof for The Montclair Dispatch.

The Strange Xchange is unlike any other flea market, in addition to the usual crafts and jewelry, The Strange Xchange, offers up a unique variety of objects such as taxidermy and vintage rock and roll shirts. On Saturday, Nov. 26, The Strange Xchange Pop Up Flea Market came to The Wellmont Theater, bringing over 40 vendors, food trucks and live acts to Montclair, just in time for Small Business Saturday. Hosted by The Aquarian Weekly and Mark and Mark of Weird NJ, The Strange Xchange offered vendors whose products ranged from jewelry to t-shirts to handmade crafts and even a Felix the Cat stand, showcasing how the market truly has something for everyone. Along with clothing and crafts, The Strange Xchange also hosted a variety of stands selling a multitude of things ranging from hot sauce to candles and soap.

The Strange Xchange isn’t just a place to shop, but it also included performances and had movies playing on the stage throughout the event. The Strange Xchange had an appearance from Little St. Nicholas and his elf, Buddy, who posed for photos throughout the event. They also included strange feats done by Adam Realman that consisted of a nail and a screwdriver through his nostrils, sword swallowing and blowing up a hot water bottle with just his lungs, which proved to be very difficult and dangerous to do.

“I’m from town, too,” said vendor Alex Flannery. “It’s kinda cool that things like this go on in town and bring the oddity market here locally.”

For fans of urban exploring, The Strange Xchange hosted a Portraits of the Abandoned United States stand, showcasing photos of many of the most spectacular abandoned buildings in the country in all of their decaying glory.

If puns are more your style, the Red Robot Co. stand was filled with them. Showcasing the works of artist Alex Flannery, Red Robot offered a variety of posters depicting an illustration with a short pun underneath, as well as pins, mugs and t-shirts with the designs. For book lovers, author Mark R. Vogel had a stand showcasing his debut horror mystery novel, Crestwood Lake.

The lesser known vendors used The Strange Xchange as a way to get the word out about their product and to explain to people what their brand is. Ed Martin, founder and president of Outer Limits Hot Sauce, stated, “We are based here in Jersey. We use all natural peppers, and are vegan and gluten free and we focus on flavor over heat.” Along with hot sauce, Outer Limits offered spicy chocolate bars, pins, shirts and hoodies.

Another brand showcasing their talent was Choonimals. Choonimals is a brand that has taken animals or creatures and recreated them to be more ravenous. They have printed these animals on shirts, pins, patches and temporary tattoos. Choonimals cofounder, Chad Long, stated, “I started with my two best friends. We started drawing them as sharpie tattoos with friends and thought they’d be cool as t-shirts.” Along with their products, Choonimals has also worked with the festival, Vans Warped Tour, and were even the official artwork sponsors and designers for the 2016 tour.

The Strange Xchange truly is one of a kind. Co-curator Mark Sceurman, of the duo Mark and Mark of Weird NJ puts it nicely, “We do it twice a year and it’s a spectacular experience for everyone that attends. Where else can you see people swallow swords and blow up hot water bottles, and take a picture with little St. Nick?”

The Strange Xchange was host to people of all ages, as many families came together to see the different vendors. Along with people, dogs were also allowed into the event, as one dog named Pearl could be seen getting pushed around in a stroller due to her arthritis and was dressed in a festive skirt.

Overall, The Strange Xchange Pop Up Flea Market is a fun place to go to and get to see products and performances you might not be able to see anywhere else. “I have a good time. I like finding weird stuff and this is definitely the place to go for that,” said Mark Calabrese.

“I agree,” said Mandy Fabrizi. “It’s a good time, and dwarf Santa was legit.”

To find out about upcoming shows at The Wellmont Theater you can check out their website and to see more from The Stange Xchange Pop Up Flea Market  you can go their website

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