Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Trip to the Brooklyn Flea

Dramatic yellow wisteria on the way to the Brooklyn Flea (click on photos to enlarge)

[This story first appeared last week on New York Social]

I'm fairly addicted to flea markets, antique stores, and second hand shops, and I guess that a lot of other people are too because The New York Times did a BIG story on Sunday about weekend flea markets. The writer asked why flea markets are so popular now but I don't think the correct conclusion was arrived at; I think flea markets are well-trafficked now because New Yorkers are yearning for something authentic, for something with history, for old New York. In an era of commercialization and re-zoning where it seems like every block has a new bland high rise, a Starbucks, and a bank, New Yorkers (this New Yorker at least) long for something different and unique.

The city's biggest and most visited flea markets previously lined 25th Street at Sixth Avenue but after the area was re-zoned, the parking lots where the flea markets thrived on the weekends were replaced by, yes, new bland high-rises with a Starbucks and a bank. Filling the void and founded in 2008 by Brooklyners Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby is the popular Brooklyn Flea. Located in Fort Greene on Saturdays and Williamsburg on Sundays, it features hundreds of vendors offering antiques, clothes, art, crafts, collectibles and delicious fresh food.

The Flea in Fort Greene, found on the asphalt playground of Bishop Laughlin Memorial High School at Lafayette and Clermont, is fun to visit on a Saturday. Pratt Institute is nearby so there are a lot of art students at the Flea, and I love the creative blend of people, merchandise, fashion and food. The Brooklyn Flea has a laid-back charm which feels to me like a mix of Chilmark and Paris. And it attracts a crowd with a lot of style.

It's easy get there. Take the C train to Lafayette Avenue and walk up Lafayette past the red house with the green cornices

the old wooden houses on Adelphi Street

and lace curtains protected by wrought iron.

Over the tented dealers rise the Masonic Temple on the left and Queen of All Saints Church on the right.

Inside are interesting vendors like Jarka and Peter Cole

who sell vintage clothes and jewelry that they make.

The boys at Vintage Van Gogh

and their selection of ties.

Spring flowers and colorful eggs

This girl was so cute, dressed circa 1962.

Old pins in pie tins – I love this sort of thing.

Sharp shoes

Glasses frames for sale

Vintage furniture and hanging lights at City Owl

Time for lunch. The back end of the Flea is lined with tents of vendors selling all kinds of fresh food. But just plan ahead because you will wait in line.

Lunch of a shrimp roll and a black coffee accompanied by a few raindrops.

After lunch I found my friends Enrique Crame and Matt Fox from the online store Fine and

The boys had set up shop for the day at the Brooklyn Flea and were doing good business with their bow ties, scarves and accessories.

I checked out their dapper ties.

This iron fixture offered post office boxes in a general store.

Strike a pose: Natasha Diggs and Gizmo "Vintage Honey"

Metal and glass

Lace gloves at the Flea – love it.

Great glasses and great shorts

At the end of the day I got a treat at Dough – "We fry in Bed-Sty" is their slogan. They make the most delicious donuts.

I got the Cafe au Lait flavor. Fantastic and fresh and luxuriously iced but not too sugary. These donuts are the new Magnolia cupcake. And only $2. Sweet. The perfect end to my trip to the Brooklyn Flea.


Gail, northern California said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the homogenization of this country. Huge corporations and large developers have already changed the landscapes of Small Town, USA. I defy anyone to differentiate between one town and the next when they all contain WalMarts, Targets, Home Depots, Costcos, IKEAs, etc.

Bart Boehlert said...

I agree with you Gail. This blog is my way of celebrating the creative spirit of the individual –

Anne said...

Terrific post and agree about why these events ever gain in popularity....the creative drive of the individual is ultimately unstoppable. But it can find little solace in the current corporate offerings...and is, therefore, moving beyond them .

In the past when the corporate world ran out of juice, something new was allowed in to rejuvenate the whole ...I'm thinking specifically of the mid- late 60's and then the punk area ('78-80) years later.

Each time mainstream culture had reached a kind of crisis. Then something new happened or more to the point, was allowed in , and the whole was renewed....but no more.

They have everything so totally tied down now , not realizing , or perhaps not even caring,that in doing so they are tying off thier own life line... Suits are no longer interested in learning what people want...the attitude seems to be : They will tell us what we will have.

In the end it's a good thing as people are increasingly looking to themselves and among themselves.
Thanks for the blog!

Samantha said...

LOVE this post Bart!! Inspired to make a trip there myself.