This Punk-Rock Flea Market is Bringing an Underground Edge to Phoenixville
Held monthly at the Pickering Creek Inn, the market boasts more than 30 vendors.
Courtesy of Philadelphia Live.
Blame the full moon, not the music or makeup, for the first fight in seven years at the Pickering Creek Inn—and for Tony Cadaver’s resulting black eye. When he arrived at the emergency room at 1 a.m., it was already full of similar cases. But with a last name like his, it could’ve been worse.
“The Pick” is a live-music venue, bar and eatery in Phoenixville where Cadaver books and performs with bands. He also runs Wednesday-night karaoke and is a DJ, most notably for the Phoenixville Punk Rock Flea Market, held on the last Sunday of each month. July marked the second anniversary of what appears to be a burgeoning trend—a punk-rock flea has restarted in Philadelphia, and another exists in Trenton.
Occasionally, the 38-year-old Cadaver, a fixture on the local punk scene since he was 16, plays bouncer, too. His black left eye—within his punk-painted face—came courtesy of a biker crowd one night, just after his Misfits tribute band finished playing the Pick with early Misfits member Bobby Steele. At least the post-brunch crowd helps level the stereotype during the kid-and dog-friendly flea market, which goes from 2 to 6 p.m. “They’ll walk in, see tattoos, and hear the music blaring. But the next month, they’re back, and we’ve made new friends,” says Cadaver, explaining that the key to the event’s success is no exclusions. “They may have never dealt with punk rock before, but there’s the stigma that we’ll wreck the place and throw beers around. We’ll do that, but we’ll wait until after.”
The Pick is at the far end of East Bridge Street, a bit removed from the gentrified strip in Phoenixville. It was formerly the Mansion House, which Cadaver called “a nuisance bar.” “Then again, the whole town of Phoenixville was once a nuisance,” he says.
Courtesy of Philadelphia Live.
Ken Kaufmann helped change that perception when he bought the place eight years ago. “Now, we’d like to think we’re part of the progress,” says Cadaver, who’s also a bartender and a swimming-pool maintenance man. “We’d like to help the town.”
Among 30 vendors, Cadaver is certainly helping shoppers find unique punk-rock shirts, posters and records. Beyond that, there are collectibles, crystal and holistic stones, custom jewelry, home goods, original art, taxidermy, video games, toys, comic books and antiques. Vendors do themed holiday markets, along with canned-food and toy drives for community organizations. By mid-summer, plans were to fill the parking lot of next-door neighbor Ramsey Health & Wellness Spa with another 20-plus dealers.
The Stone Fairy’s Michelle and Michael Bono, who’ve been regular vendors and promoters for the past year, call the market their brick-and-mortar store, where they sell their handmade healing-crystal jewelry. “The place itself draws such an eclectic clientele,” says Michelle. “If you go in, you will know the songs, even if you don’t listen to those songs now.”
Michael, a musician who’s recently taken up the lute-family bouzouki, says the market and its crowds are growing every month. Because some vendors rotate, everybody prospers. “People come not necessarily looking for our stuff, but they end up buying it,” he says.
Cadaver sells old show fliers that he’s designed for his bands through the years. His girlfriend, Desiree Schott, also sells. Another vendor, Jesse Crater, works at a recycling center and produces all kinds of cool pieces. Books are also popular, especially graphic novels, Stephen King’s catalog and Jack Kerouac stuff, though Cadaver won’t sell his. “It also helps that customers are here drinking,” the flea-market organizer says. “Once you get a few beers in people, they usually buy something.”
Then there’s the music. DJ sets feature classic punk rock, new wave, metal, ska, glam, garage and more, spun by Cadaver and guest DJs Q-Ball, Blanko Dave and Michael Kerchner. Cadaver knows the punk scene. He still sings with his two bands, the Noid and Psycho ’78, the Misfits tribute band. In the early 2000s, he played bass on tour with the Cut-Offs, traversing the country with Chuck Treece and his band, McRad.
The Pick is the perfect place, with its wall of painted music notes honoring a mishmash of bands, from the Misfits to the Who and the Beatles. “It’s a mix just like the place,” Cadaver says. “It’s very loud. It’s our signature. New vendors ask if we can turn it down. We say, ‘No, not really.’”