We had the good fortune of connecting with Phillip Dane and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Phillip, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
In 1991 I started the Flea Market on Melrose at Fairfax High School. I was a lot younger than I am now so my motivation was a bit different back then. I was always starting businesses that attracted me as something I enjoy AND could perhaps make a living at since the age of 14. It was never in my thoughts that what I was doing would or could impact the community but it became more and more evident that what I was doing did in fact impact the community and 30 years later, thousands of mom and pop businesses as well. Now, 30 years after starting the first Flea in Los Angeles and with hundreds if not thousands of events under my belt, I see how what we do here can impact the community, our sellers, and others that are either directly or indirectly involved in our business. For example, we are producing the Los Feliz Flea at Marshall HS. Over 60% of the fees we pay go directly to the school and the balance goes to the District. We have had huge successes come out of the events we produce. “We” refers to my wife and business partner, Shelly Dane who shortly after we were married 11 years ago, became onboard as a Managing Partner in Odd Market and the Co-Director of our nonprofit, Odd Lot Foundation. The Odd Lot Foundation was born out of the current pandemic with our mission to help as many small businesses survive and thrive during these very trying times. Many of the Sellers registered with us had day jobs and lost them. They also, until 8 weeks ago lost the ability to sell at live events. Flea markets and other events we produce offers an immediate income stream which is so desperately needed now. The longer-term effects can lead to world-wide exposure of their brand, the opening of their dream shop or tools to understand the ins and outs of the business. On a community level, Flea Markets are recession-proof. During difficult times they provide a fun way to still get “stuff” but without breaking the bank. And there are always hidden treasures. We had a 21-year-old buy a painting for $12 at the Flea Market only to find out it was appraised at $125,000! And when the economy is booming, well-curated Flea Markets are a way to shop unique items and they are a ton of fun to share with friends and family. Today we enforce safe distancing, face-covering, and space our Sellers out in extra-large spaces. We aim to be a model for what responsible event production looks like. We have a responsibility to protect our attendees and our sellers as well as show the community that a little effort can perhaps have long term benefits on a multitude of levels.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Over the years I have probably started over thirty or forty companies and they all start organically with a simple, “this would be cool” or from a perceived need. Event Production is art. It’s not on a canvas but it is still the creation of something from an idea. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the mainstream at the beginning of March 2020, my immediate thought was that this will hurt the pop-up and food trucks in a devastating way. There has to be a solution to help and I started creating GoLive, an on-demand video chat platform designed to reconnect sellers with customers as the events came to a stop. Creating something never done before takes a wild imagination and the ability to constantly find solutions to what may seem to be deal-breaking obstacles. What was originally slated to be a 3-week project has turned into a 7-month roller coaster of trial and errors. GoLive is unlike anything on the market. The idea is to replace the impersonal chat platform with a face to face chat option. Click a button and within seconds be on a video call with the store owner. I like to think that what I do is more an art form than a business. And seeing the end result, I am usually on the mark.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
That’s a tough one being that we live in Los Angeles. There are so many cool little restaurants, beaches, and mountain areas. First would be Back on the Beach Cafe from brunch then head into Beverly Hills and McCormicks for happy hour. Dinner at Musso’s and The Well for drinks and a late-night snack. That’s to break them in on Day 1. Then it’s off to the obscure. Small dives in DTLA and a french Dio at Coles. A trip to Arrowhead for the day. People-watching in Beverly Hills and Venice Beach. Rooftop dining. Odd Nights at The Autry. Of course, this is all in a post-Covid world.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a lot of people that have impacted my life starting with my mother, Yvonne who raised me in NYC as a single mother working every day of her life to provide for me and to show me that hard work is not something to be frowned on but to honor. It’s a blessing to be able to work. My wife, Shelly who is not only the mother of our kids but my business partner. Shelly is the level headed, smart one. Nothing stops my wife when she commits to something and she is ‘sharpshooter’ focused unlike myself, so she brings balance to the table. Years ago, a man by the name of Nick showed me how to run a business with integrity and dedication and to have fun at it too. He most likely never even knew the impact he had on me. Then there are the day players. I learn from my Sellers, my staff, my Sound Engineer, Lighting guys, the Groundskeepers, and really all of the interactions with countless people who have no idea they are making a difference in my business and in my life.