Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Trip to the Brooklyn Flea

Spring flowers and colorful eggs at the Brooklyn Flea.
By Bart Boehlert

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, located 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 to the Brooklyn Flea. Take the C train to Lafayette Avenue and walk up Lafayette past the red house with the green cornices.
The fantastic yellow wisteria.
The old wooden houses on Adelphi.
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 such as ...
Jarka and Peter Cole. The boys at Vintage Van Gogh.
Jarka and Peter Cole sell vintage clothes and jewelry that they make.
Vintage Van Gogh's selection of ties.
Pins in pie tins – I love this sort of thing.
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
Fine and's Enrique Crame and Matt Fox. I checked out their dapper ties. had set up shop for the day at the Brooklyn Flea and were doing good business with their bow ties, scarves and accessories.
This iron fixture offered post office boxes in a general store.
Natasha Diggs and Gizmo "Vintage Honey." Lace gloves at the Flea – love it.
Sharp shoes. This girl was so cute, dressed circa 1962.
Metal and glass.
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 Café 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.
The popular blog Bart Boehlert’s Beautiful Things is a style diary of life in New York.

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