On an overcast, muggy Saturday morning the Chilmark Flea Market’s parking lot teemed with cars. At the eye of the hurricane stood Annette Anthony, vendor manager of the flea for 12 years, guiding vehicles towards the few remaining open spots.

“Cloudy day, this is always what happens,” she said, directing the mid-summer traffic with the calm command of a maestro conducting an orchestra.

“I’m one of nine children, and I’m a professional organizer by trade, and I just do what my instinct tells me because I know it’s true,” she said, waving cars in and out as she spoke. “And, you know, it’s the flea, we don’t expect Jesus to show up, so there’s no point in gunning it.”

Talie Storey and John Zannini of Salt MV of Vineyard Haven.

If the messiah isn’t making an appearance this summer, just about everyone else is. After a year off due to the pandemic, the Chilmark Flea Market is open once again, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday and Saturday through Sept. 11. Visitors can peruse nearly 60 stalls set up off North Road, looking for a one-of-a-kind find amid the vintage memorabilia and local artisan wares.

On Saturday, vendors remarked on the unprecedented surge in business this summer.

“I just can’t keep up. I thought I was good for the season,” said Blossom Schmitt, owner of Florawear.co, referring to her inventory. “Now I feel like I’m good until the beginning of August.”

For many vendors, the return of the flea means the return of a vital component of their social life. Many said that they have forged friendships with both customers and fellow vendors over their years participating.

Phoenix Rogers displaying her wampum jewelry. — Ray Ewing

“This is my social world in the summertime,” artist Walker Roman said.

“It feels so good to be part of the community again,” Angela Sison, owner of the fashion brand Conrado, echoed.

Susan Balaban’s bracelet stand is part jewelry store, part astrologer’s den and part best friend’s kitchen table. She shared stories of how her cosmically-influenced bead combinations have helped purchasers.

“This young woman, maybe it was four years ago, came by, and she was just starting college, and she said, ‘can you make me something, I’m worried about this, and I’m worried about that. Can we pick out some stones?’ And we did, we crafted a bracelet for her… and the next summer she comes back, and she’s like, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, I need you to recreate that bracelet. It got me through my first semester… and then we went to Hawaii on vacation, and I went diving and an octopus wrapped its tentacles around the bracelet and pulled it and broke it,’” Ms. Balaban said, adding that she promptly restrung the magic blend.

Angela Sison and her Conrado clothing. — Ray Ewing

“It’s fun to hear everyone’s stories,” she added.

First time vendors also feel the camaraderie of the community.

Julie Schmidt, co-president of the Vineyard Independence Partnership, a partnership of Islanders with disabilities, their family members and friends, said that her group felt welcomed by the market.

“We’re new faces, so people are stopping by and chatting with us,” she said.

Jane Neumann, the longest serving participant, has not been a new face at the market since 1977, when she first started selling second-hand tchotchkes. After the postponement last year, she’s excited to be back in the field, unloading her latest batch of finds from the back of her tan Volkswagen van.

“My dream would be to drop right here,” she said with a laugh. “Just take me and throw me in the van.”

“I just love doing it,” she added. “So much of it is not about making money, it’s about the social.”

The Chilmark Flea Market is open every Wednesday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 142 North Road, Chilmark.