March 28, 2023
There's nothing like spending a spring weekend browsing local wares and treats at an outdoor market, and shoppers will soon have an option in South Philadelphia to visit on warm afternoons.
The Southeast Asian Market opens for the season in FDR Park on Saturday, April 1. Run by a community of refugees and immigrants, the cultural hub will welcome customers on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through the end of October.
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When the market opens, visitors can browse native cuisine, culturally-specific produce, plants, clothing and jewelry. Some of the vendors on site speak multiple languages.
The history of the market stems back to the 1980s, when Lao and Cambodian refugees escaping conflict and genocide settled in South Philadelphia, making FDR Park their green space sanctuary. By the early '90s a handful of immigrant merchants — which also included Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian vendors — popped up in the park, making it a destination for local Southeast Asian residents to shop and eat specialty foods not found in restaurants.
Although vendors once faced pushback from police, park officials and neighbors, the establishment of the Vendors Association of FDR Park in 2021 allowed for the market to exist in harmony with park visitors.
This January, the market finally announced its future forever home will be located in the southwest corner of FDR Park, between the skate park and future wetland.
For 2023, there are two Southeast Asian Market locations that vary by season. Season 1 is from April to June, and is located near the Broad Street exit. Season 2 runs from July to October and is found near the Taney baseball field. Visitors can view maps of the exact locations online.
In the summer, as the sun begins to set later, some vendors may extend their hours past 6 p.m. The market will also be open for three-day weekends on certain holidays, including Memorial Day on Monday, May 29, and Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 4.
Some of the market's merchants welcome mobile payment apps, but cash is the preferred form of payment for most.
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