A look at the OC Open Market in Laguna Hills

(Courtney Baclawski/Lariat)

In late 2018, the Laguna Hills Mall closed its doors to be demolished and rebuilt into a newer luxury shopping mall. But things didn’t go as planned and the half-demolished husk of the mall stood alone.

Life was brought back into the old mall when Ian Winterbotham, the founder of Open Market OC decided to turn it into a haven for small indie brands and businesses to sell their products and services.

“We have over 250 unique vendors, it’s open seven days a week, and it’s always free parking,” Winterbotham said.

Since it opened its doors in Sep. 2019, Open Market OC has been offering a unique shopping experience to everyone who stops by. Comprised smaller local businesses, patreons make their way through the maze of stalls packed with a variety of different products and services.

A few local artists rent out space to show and sell some of their artwork. The market also hosts various art classes for people of all ages and skills.

The market offers a selection of clothing booths varying from small boho boutiques to vintage collections. Freshman Saddleback student, Cami Chenault, who also works at the Open Market frequents the booths to fill her closet.

“I have shopped here quite a few times, it’s kinda hard to keep a paycheck honestly,” said Chenault. “75° and Fuzzy is one of my favorite places.”

75° and Fuzzy is a mother-daughter owned women’s boutique that carries indie and boho clothing.

There’s something for everyone here at the open market. The “man cave” hidden in the back filled with different pinball machines. Some of the pinball machines are even for sale.

Besides clothes and knick knacks, the people at the open market also offer an array of foods and snacks to munch on as you peruse the aisles. Emily Buus, another Saddleback student who is a cashier at the market, gave the inside scoop on the best bites they have to offer.

“There’s multiple food booths here,” said Buus. “We have baklava, beef jerky, and the cookies, treats. Just a bunch of different items. There’s baklava in the back and I buy it a lot and I’ll eat the whole thing by myself.”

Since the coronavirus arrived in the area Open Market OC had to close its doors according to county guidelines. But that doesn’t mean you can’t shop all the small businesses they have to offer. Their instagram page, @openmarketoc, posts regularly highlighting new businesses and products. There you can find links to the websites and instagram pages for all the local sellers they house.

We reached out for a comment on further operations and this is what they had to say:

“Some sell online, some sell on OfferUp or Poshmark.  We are currently transitioning to a new website that will sell all of our vendors products online. We are hoping to be live with that before reopening.”