Alameda Flea (pictured above and below) is twelve years old, but rookie Treasure Island Flea (middle) is making waves.
Good news: You won’t have to choose one over another as far as scheduling is concerned. Alameda’s takes place on the first Sunday of the month and Candlestick’s is on the third (both are open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.) , unless there’s a 49ers game, in which case check the website; TI snags both days of the last weekend of the month, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ease of Access
Candlestick is a breeze—just head down (or up) 101 and look for the signs—and TI is virtually idiot-proof: Get on the Bay Bridge, get off in the middle. For Alameda, don’t leave home without a Google map. ’Nuff said.
Candlestick’s is what you dream of every time you go to Whole Foods: row after row of beautiful empty parking spots. Alameda has ginormous parking lots, but you need to bring a compass and a marker to find your car again. TI is fine for now, but once the market really catches fire, you’ll be parking far down the Avenue of Palms.
With 10,000 people browsing and 800 dealers on about a square quarter mile, the Alameda market can be daunting, so steer clear if you’re agoraphobic. Candlestick’s takes place in the stadium parking lot, which has room for 50,000 cars and at least that many people, but so far, it has remained small and manageable: 150 vendors and 2,000 customers. TI hosts 300 vendors and about 10,000 customers throughout two days.
Alameda and Candlestick both have a strict 20-plus-years-old rule for all items, and your basic mix of junk and treasures. At TI, “it just has to be cool,” says cofounder Charles F. Ansanelli.
Some might consider the Alameda market’s boast that it’s “the most scenic antique show in the world,” an exaggeration. Still, unobstructed views of the Bay Bridge, Yerba Buena Island, the Oakland port, and the San Francisco skyline aren’t too shabby. Nor is the city skyline in combination with the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge, which is what you get at TI. Candlestick’s view is, well, a big, round half-dome with the 49ers logo all over it. Enjoy.
At Candlestick, the pickings are pretty slim: a sausage stand and a coffee cart, plus a few more choices. Alameda has plenty of options by virtue of its size alone, and thanks to its early start time, the breakfast fare is particularly good. Grab a Belgian waffle with bananas and honey from Golden Waffle or a breakfast burrito from Chow Down Especial. At TI, you’ll find that the S.F. food truck movement has jumped the channel—and don’t miss out on Harvey’s Gourmet Donuts before leaving. Harvey fries the miniature balls of nirvana right there with his antique doughnut maker and coats them with your choice of something sugary.