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Small businesses born during coronavirus pandemic find exposure at new Capital Flea Market in Hartford

Small businesses born during coronavirus pandemic find exposure at new Capital Flea Market in Hartford

An entrepreneurial spirit has been stirring in the capital region as the economic wreckage of the pandemic gives way to new small businesses and now a flea market in Hartford to showcase them.

Most weekends since early September vendors from around the region have lined a little-used parking lot at Market and Trumbull streets downtown that’s now the site of the Capital Flea Market. Organized by Evenlyn Black, a 26-year-old mother of two with her own small business, the market is giving sellers much-needed exposure and shoppers a rare opportunity to browse and mingle outside.

“It’s basically a community for us to be able to thrive together,” said Black, who started planning the market after she was furloughed from her reception job at Waterbury Hospital. “With the pandemic, it’s hard. How am I going to get to the points and places I know I want to be if I only stay to myself?

While some of the vendors have been growing their small businesses for years, many have started new ventures or leaned into entrepreneurship as a result of losing work and income during the pandemic.

Mike Forrester, 32, and Drew Bailey, 33, still have their day jobs; Forrester works in construction, Bailey in IT. But three months ago, the national health crisis prompted the Hartford natives to start work on their longtime vision for an apparel company.

They started selling sweatshirts, soccer jerseys and hats with graphics of their brand, Double or Nothing — a slogan that means betting on yourself, investing in yourself, they said.

“We’ve given our time to other corporations and companies, and we want to get our own time back,” Bailey said.

Out of necessity, 51-year-old Brian Perry has done just that.

Early in the pandemic, the East Hartford man was laid off from his

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