Five years ago, the Eastern Market neighborhood in Washington, D.C. started holding a weekly market of food and antique dealers, drawing thousands of curiosity seekers and helping to resuscitate the area's foundering economy.
Now, community activists at Lake Anne are hoping to replicate some of Eastern Market's success with the new Reston Market, a gathering of antique dealers, artists and sellers of strange and remarkable goods.
Held every Saturday morning behind the Washington Plaza Baptist Church at the Lake Anne Village Center, the Reston Market has grown from a handful of vendors to 26 in its first three weeks and it is starting to draw residents from across Reston.
"It's getting bigger every week. There's lot of neat, interesting things out here," said Reston resident Marcia McDevitt as she perused an assortment of imported Tibetan textiles spread across the hood of a truck.
But the Reston Market is about more than just Asian antiques, sterling silver pocket watches, oil paintings, and wood-inlaid Japanese chopsticks. It's also about revitalizing the Lake Anne Village Center, said Eve Thompson, the market's founder.
"Lake Anne gets a lot of use," Thompson said. "There's a lot of people who love it and enjoy it. But everything's wearing out. It's 40 years old."
So the market's sponsor, the nonprofit Friends of Lake Anne, are donating the money vendors pay for their spots to fix up the plaza area. The money is expected to be initially put toward restoring the aging sculptures and fountain on the plaza. Eventually the market's proceeds will also be toward sponsoring more concerts at the village center, Thompson said.
The added foot traffic is also hoped to draw more people to the shops and restaurants at Lake Anne.
"Anything that brings traffic to the plaza is good for the plaza," Thompson said. "We want this to be good for the community."
EVAN WOLFE, a vendor from Pennsylvania who sells an assortment of unusual items at the market, displayed a sampling available at the Reston Market last Saturday morning.
There was the 1890 musical German beer stein, the Tiffany & Co. silver stagecoach watch from 1910, an assortment of gold Hungarian jewelry and quite a bit of Native American ceramic goods.
"I'm something of a gatherer. At first it was just fossils and minerals. Then it was Civil War bullets that I dug up in Alexandria. It was all hell or high water from there," said Wolfe, wearing a straw hat with a button on it saying, "Subvert the Dominant Paradigm."
Katrina Ulrich, another vendor at the Reston Market, sells silk handbags and pillows made at a jobs program for women in a rural Indian village.
"The goal is to hire and give jobs to women who are widowed, handicapped or poverty-stricken," said Ulrich, whose sister runs the jobs program, which is called Blue Mango.
Chris Waters, a vendor from Falls Church, who makes and sells the Japanese chopsticks and other wood-inlaid items, said the Reston Market has the potential to make Lake Anne the community gathering place it was originally intended to be.
"This can fill a real void," he said. "This whole thing here is going to be really important."
RESTON AREA artist Erin Keele, who has been selling her paintings at the market since it opened last month, said she has had success selling her work at the market. She said she believes the market could attract people to Lake Anne who had never been there before.
"It's good for the local businesses," she said. "People who might not normally come down here might come down for the market."
Reston's founder Robert Simon, who stopped by the market Saturday morning, agreed.
"Isn't this exciting?" he said. "It is. It really, really is."