Saturday, December 15, 2018

New York’s Aqueduct Flea Market to close Jan. 1

It’s official — the famous Aqueduct Flea Market at Aqueduct Racetrack will not exist as of Jan. 1, 2011. Genting New York, a subsidiary of multinational Genting Group, has informed flea market owner Plain and Fancy Shows that the flea market must close with the first of the year, according to a report in the Queens Courier. The only hope now for the 1,000-plus vendors at the market is to find a new location. The news article says:

“Having heard from the vendors that they wanted an answer quickly in order to make their future plans, Resorts World New York expedited its review process,” said a spokesperson. “Since the Aqueduct facility will be a construction site for several months, the Division of the Lottery determined that the continued presence of the flea market would raise safety concerns in addition to being incompatible with the future use of the property.”

Aqueduct vendors protest

Vendors rallied outside of the Auqeduct Racetrack groundbreaking ceremony for the new racino.

The comment that the “racino” planners had heard from vendors may be a reference to a rally the vendors held recently. Other news outlets have reported on the story as well.

Carol DeSanto, general manager of the Aqueduct Flea Market, says the flea market’s fate was sealed when the deal to bring in the casino was inked. “We don’t have too much choice. This was, I believe, inevitable,” she says. “I think this deal was done a long time ago. Money talks. Big business talks.”

She says that Plain and Fancy Shows Inc., the show owner, was very willing to make compromises. “I told them I would tone down the market, make it smaller, give me another lot to work in, but apparently they don’t want a flea market in the parking lot where they are planning to have a high-end casino,” she says. “I guess a flea market doesn’t work into their plans. It really is a shame.”

DeSanto has not given up hope for a new venue, but she knows that, realistically speaking, it will be very hard. “Most places aren’t big enough for the market,” she says. “We’ve had real estate people looking for years to try to find something else for us in the area, but that seems impossible. We’re still looking.” She says that a lot of the stadiums don’t want it, or can’t offer the continuity a market would require.

Jay Factor, the owner of makeup suppliers Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics and Innovative Color Labs, has a lot of flea market experience in the New York area, having worked for Plain and Fancy Shows years ago. He ran flea markets at Roosevelt Raceway and Yonkers Raceway in the New York metro area, as well as the Antique Show at Madison Square Garden. “I was the general manager for Plain and Fancy when we operated the Roosevelt Raceway Flea Market prior to the company getting the Aqueduct market and Roosevelt closing,” he says.

Now he sells cosmetics wholesale, including to flea market vendors, one of whom sells at Aqueduct. “It’s sad to see it go,” he says. “It was a staple long before Plain and Fancy had it. The Aqueduct Flea Market has been in existence for about 30 years, and it is a staple for the community. And there is nothing else like it in the area any longer.”

Factor does think that the flea market could be successful in a new venue, if the rents were low enough. “I think there’s an excellent opportunity if somebody can find a physical location large enough, because the economy certainly seems right for a flea market,” he says.

Factor, who played a key role with Plain and Fancy founder Jack Bergman in helping create the current New York State law on tax collections at flea markets, says he himself would be interested in starting a new flea market in the right place. “If you find a good location, give me a call,” he says, laughing. “I have the people who are willing to back it. I’ve been looking for years, and I haven’t found the right location. There are sports facilities that would lend themselves, but they’re afraid.” Factor suggests that the borough president would have a great deal of influence in getting a new site rolling, and mentioned the parking lot at Citi Field, the new home of the Mets, as a possible site. Mets PR director Jay Horwitz had no comment on that, however, when contacted by

Queens borough president Helen Marshall

Queens borough president Helen Marshall

The Queens Courier interviewed Queens Borough president Helen Marshall, who told the newspaper that Genting’s decision not to renew the flea market’s contract is understandable, but unfortunate. She told the Courier that the vendors “deserve to be relocated, and we are going to find them a site.”

Will help from the government really be forthcoming? Although the controversy has brewed for months, and been on the boil in recent weeks, there has been no communication between the market and the borough president’s office. “I have heard not one word, not the community board. I’ve heard from no one,” says DeSanto, adding that the news was released to the press before it was given to her. “I was only notified yesterday. Everyone was notified except me. I called up on Monday to ask about the lease, and I got a return call yesterday.”

But the market still has time. “We’re still looking for a place,” DeSanto says. “We close January, February, and March normally anyway. We’re going to try our best to see what we can do.”

Photo credits, with thanks: The New York Daily News, the Office of the Queens Borough President, and Vintage Lace and Lavender.

Update: This story was updated shortly after publication with the addition of comments from Carol DeSanto.

Further update: has received a statement on the issue from Queens borough president Helen Marshall:

“It was very upsetting to see dozens of demonstrators out in the cold at the entrance to Aqueduct on the day of the recent announcement of the track’s future. While the State Lottery has final say about onsite retail at the site, we continue to be concerned about the vendors and their future. The immediate possible relocation site that comes to mind is Citi Field, and I encourage the Aqueduct Flea Market leadership to reach out to the City Department of Parks and Recreation to see if relocation is possible there or at another open-air site that would be appropriate.”


11 Responses to “New York’s Aqueduct Flea Market to close Jan. 1”
  1. A Concerend Vendor says:

    Why is Helen Marshall telling other people to contact Citi Field and the Parks & Recreation Dept? I thought SHE was actively looking for a new site?

    Concerned about the vendors – gimme a break!

  2. Bob says:

    Open Invitation to former Aqueduct vendors to join us at the New Meadowlands Market at Giants/Jets Stadium. NJ premier outdoor market.Visit our website at for additional information.Open 12 months a year every Saturday.

  3. gc says:

    This whole thing is silly. The Aqueduct site is *enourmous*. For instance, there is just as much space south of the racetrack on the property as there is north of it (north is where the flea market is currently held). So, if the hotels and such are being put in the north part, why not just move the flea market to the giant sound parking lot? And other events in the past HAVE been held in the south parking lot (for instance, the Big A Fair).

    There is also places like Floyd Bennet Field, which hosts many different activities and events, including in the past flea markets, art shows, etc.. And, as the article mentions, there is tons of places such as CitiField, Flushing Meadow Park, etc including I bet even a ton of “dead land” throughout JFK and Jamaica Bay. And if a lease could have been given by the state to the flea market for so many decades with rents, insurance, etc able to work there, then it should work as easily elsewhere, including places not right next to neighborhoods, and even if currently filled with grass and/or needs a blacktop, and that could earn the city etc some mild income. This is a complete no brainer, especially for any politician with half a brain and should earn them lots of brownie points.

  4. joanie says:

    how about the rockaways…so much space there

  5. Vinno says:

    These politicians and developers have robbed me of my childhood!!!! It was a summer tradition for me and my family.I could deals galore,plus it was close by and only a 10 minute bus ride. There could have been other spaces. I hope the Racino @ Aqueduct TANKS!!!! and anybody else who sees between the BS about jobs, winnings ,etc. need to wake up. Its an attack on the little guy.

  6. Vinno says:

    RE Concerned Vendor.

    What can you expect from a politician? lip service.

  7. Donna says:

    I think Citifield is perfect with the economy the way it is we need this flea market please give these people a break they are only trying to make a living.
    I love the flea market and my husband is a hoarse trainer.

    Please Helen Marshall work your magic and make Citifield work.

    thank you

  8. Lydia Davino says:

    We have a new flea market opening in Newburgh, nicely located less than 1 mile from Stewart Airport. We are looking for venders and thought perhaps some of the displaced Aqueduct vendors might be interested. We are in a bustling area, near such stores as Lowes, Home Depot, Michael’s, etc.
    E-mail me or call me 561-357-5774.

  9. Yoleny MD says:

    My sister-in-law recently went to the Aqueduct Flea Market and found it closed. She wanted to buy some things like perfumes, shoes, and handbags. Where did they move to? More especifically, the handbag vendors…they had some really nice bags and super affordable! I wanted to go next weekend and she told me not to waste my gas nor time because I wouldn’t find it there any more. I live on Long Island and I’d only go as far as Queens, there’s no way I’m driving out to NJ…so, are there any vendors on Long Island?

  10. Isabel says:

    unfotunatley there are absoultley no places left on Long Island. The flea markets on Long Island mostly carry lots of jewlery, some clothing which isnt very flattering, perfume, & if your lucky a sneaker store and a car audio dealer. Back about 15—20 years ago Long Island had more than 2 flea markets. All thats really left is the one in Sayville & Tri County in Levittown.

  11. Ken says:

    I worked at flea markets for over 30 years. I sold at Rooservelt, Aqueduct, and Yonkers Raceways. It was a great run while it lasted. I sold Rubbermaid housewares, Basic line, along with seasonal good ie: Christmas paper, cards gift boxes. I ran a triple spot at most of the markets. Scotty Mace was my only rival. I really felt bad for the vendors who didn’t have a backup plan. I went back to college got my degree in education and started a new career. Again my first love will always be the Flea Market, a lot of work, but loved every minute of it!

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