New restaurant, produce stand at Sandy Hollow Flea Market

Sandy Hollow Flea Market adds authentic Mexican food to restaurant menu, opens fresh fruit stand

Sandy Hollow Flea Market has been open on the outskirts of Rockford for decades. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, shoppers and vendors alike have been flocking to the flea market to buy and sell a huge variety of products. Now, patrons of the market can take advantage of dozens of vendors and a new, expanded menu at the in-shop café and a fresh fruit and vegetable market.

The café’s extended menu is the newest attraction at the flea market. While there has always been a snack-bar style menu of burgers, fries and other traditional American fare, the café has added a full menu of authentic Mexican food including tacos and tortas, which are traditional Mexican sandwiches made fresh by Alex Arteaga, who runs the café.

Maria Martinez and her husband Efraim opened their fresh fruit and vegetable stand at the flea market about a month ago. While they do not carry all of the fruits and vegetables that one could find at a grocery store, their prices are very reasonable for fresh produce, and they carry specialty-type items like tomatillos and fresh tamarind. Their selection varies, says Maria, by whatever is fresh, ripe and available. The food is all brought in fresh on both Friday and Saturday.

Carol and Albert Fritsch, owners of the flea market, have worked to change the focus of their business this year. “We wanted to include a little bit of everything,” Carol explains. “A few antiques, some collector’s items, but really something for everybody. A family affair.”

The wide variety of other vendors includes art, flower arrangements, clothes, several booths full of music and movies. While much of the merchandise could be found in other stores with higher prices, some of the merchandise fills unique niches.

Richard Sena, who has had a booth in the flea market for about a year, sells CDs.

“I’m really into music,” Sena said. “I try to keep up on everything that’s happening [in music], but a lot of what I sell is the stuff I listen to.”

Sena’s booth specializes in Tejano and Mexican rap CDs that, while considered mainstream in some parts of the U.S., are very hard to find in the Rockford area and usually have to be special ordered.

The flea market is on Sandy Hollow just West of Alpine Road.

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