Two new markets are launching in the Queens and Brooklyn boroughs of New York City, both hoping to attract vendors displaced from the now-shuttered Aqueduct Flea Market and joining the Value Fair Market in offering hundreds of evicted sellers a new place to do business.
The Down Town Flea Market, an outdoor market with plans to open March 4 with 30 vendors, is actively recruiting. Located at 74 Hanson Place near Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, the market is located very close to the Atlantic Terminal Mall. Market manager Marat Shvartsman selected this location for the traffic it can generate. “This site was picked strategically to offer vendors the chance to make the most sales possible,” he says.
His goal, he says, is to offer vendors reasonably priced rents. “The biggest inspiration to open a market is to let business owners sell their products in a prime location and not pay enormous rental rates,” says Shvartsman. “This way they keep their overhead low so they can invest the money back into their business.”
“We are having a huge response through our advertising campaign. We are looking for vendors that are selling antiques, arts, crafts, and clothing. We are also looking for food vendors,” says Shvartsman, “and we are currently offering Aqueduct vendors special group rates.” The Down Town Flea Market will be open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and 10×10 spaces will cost $50 a day. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (646) 730-6395. The market is also on Facebook.
In Queens, the Merrick Flea Market is also hoping to give a new home to former Aqueduct Flea Market vendors. Market manager Brian Baxter has a deep empathy with these vendors, since he was employed by Plain and Fancy Shows, the owner of the Aqueduct market, for 33 years. He witnessed the events that led to the end of the market, and he is still angry about it. At first, he relates, the company that operates the new casino said it was willing to make a deal. But “a few days before our meeting was scheduled, they alerted the media that they were not renewing our contract,” says Baxter. “They never even came to us. We thought we had a handshake, and that they would listen to us. It’s hard not to have hard feelings. It makes me think that from day one they didn’t have any intention of keeping a flea market on the premises.”
Now Baxter has joined a new market, on Merrick Boulevard in the Springfield Gardens neighborhood, which held a soft launch last year. “It’s been a test for a few months in October and November,” explains Baxter. “As the winter came along, people said, ‘Well, if I want to stay in business, I gotta get into an indoor market.’ We’ve had a halfway decent turnout and locked some people in for some space.”
The Merrick Flea Market is indoors. “It used to be an old electrical warehouse,” says Baxter. “The plus is that it is heated and fully secured with cameras. It gets locked down an hour after the market closes.” He says that it is easy for vendors who can leave their merchandise in place after the market closes.
Baxter has advertised in local Queens papers and the Daily news for Aqueduct vendors, and word of mouth has been important. “All these vendors are like family,” he says. “It’s a small world in the vending industry.” The market has a special offer for those vendors. “We’re running a special for $350 per month,” he says. “After that it will be $550 per month. We’re coming up with an aggressive plan by the day.” Right now it is $55 per day, versus $30 or $40 per day if vendor locks in a monthly rate.
The Merrick Flea Market currently has about 40 vendors, and could fit 120 to 145 with some creative squeezing. Myron Berman owns the building and the market, and he also owns the established Pennsy Flea Market in Philadelphia. For more information, visit the market’s Web site or e-mail email@example.com.
Feb. 24 Update: The Merrick Flea Market is up to 80 vendors, per this profile and video news report from NY1.com.