The So-so Market: Berkeley’s Instagram-worthy marketplace

A market shopper delights in seeing Japanese High-End Brands.
A market shopper delights in seeing “Japanese High-End Brands”.
Elsa Hunt

If you enjoy thrifting, fashion, or simply immersing yourself in the diversity of Berkeley, the So-so Market should be at the top of your weekend itinerary. The market is a vintage pop-up marketplace that started in Berkeley and now has additional locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Santa Cruz. It has amassed over 30,000 followers on Instagram and is home to a multitude of unique and creative sellers who offer everything from knitted creatures, to handmade jewelry, to vintage Formula 1 jackets. 

According to the market’s Instagram page, this is a great spot for those who want to “[shop], take a break from studying, [and] meet new friends.”

Situated on Telegraph St., between Dwight and Bancroft, Berkeley’s market is conveniently connected to the University of California Berkeley’s campus. The street closes so that vendors can line the area with tents and pop-ups. The expanse creates a lovely farmers market vibe, though sellers offer Juicy Couture purses instead of homegrown apples and trade honey sticks for 10-dollar kitten heels.

A market vendor displays vibrant racks of color-coded clothing. (Elsa Hunt)

When you step into the closed-off block, it’s like walking into a bright, eye-catching Pinterest photo. The streets are full of color and lined with incredible thrift finds carefully curated by individual vendors. 

From Y2K, to Kawaii, to streetwear, the So-so Market appeals to every aesthetic. Sprinkled with stands from resellers and small boutiques, buyers get the best of both worlds and are unlikely to become bored, even if they aren’t fans of thrifting. 

Telegraph Ave. comes alive with the market’s presence. The street becomes a hotspot for fashionable, fun individuals, many of whom attend UC Berkeley. Since the So-so Market sellers generally appeal to teenagers and young adults, the street always teems with young people keeping it lively and on-trend.

Due to their individuality and specified aesthetics, most clothes at the market cost around 15-20 dollars, but there are outliers, and some of the more exclusive pieces like jackets and purses can reach the low hundreds. That said, the market aims to be inclusive, and most vendors have five-dollar or ten-dollar bins. Additionally, many offer verbal encouragement to negotiate their prices. 

While a thoroughly enjoyable solo experience, the So-so Market is best experienced with friends. Whether they’re there to encourage pieces you’re debating or give you the harsh truth about the shirt you’re about to purchase, friends make the event much more enjoyable and vibrant. The market’s bubbly energy creates a feeling of community and connection, making it extremely easy to grow your circle. 

Attendees browse the So-So Market’s vast selection of shops. (Elsa Hunt)

Something to note, if you have sensitive lungs, is the bearable but noticeable amount of smoking that occurs at the Berkeley market. Additionally, the Berkeley market vendors don’t offer food, but due to its proximity to the UC Berkeley campus, there are many inexpensive and tasty restaurants in the area, catering to the vibrant crowd of college students.

The market’s mellow, urban atmosphere and its vast array of iconic and fun pieces make it a perfect outing for anybody. The vending season is winding down in these colder months, so outdoor markets are becoming scarce. However, the So-so Market still has permanent store locations in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Los Angeles, allowing for curated shopping all year. 

The So-so Market’s next Bay Area event is Dec. 10 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Oakland Scottish Rite, a beautiful art deco ballroom in Oakland. The event is “Winter Wonderland”-themed, so mark your calendars now for an event fully deserving 4.5/5 feathers.

Sweatshirts, jackets, and a hat hang on an outdoor display. (Elsa Hunt)
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