A ‘Flea’ for all?

The Brooklyn Paper
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Shoppers and merchants rallied in support of a popular flea market against criticism that the weekly bazaar has become a nuisance for neighboring residents and churchgoers.

The three-month-old Brooklyn Flea, held on Sundays on the back field at Bishop Loughlin HS, had been widely seen as a community and commercial success until last Thursday when opponents denounced it for the loss of parking, an increase in litter and as an affront to the Sabbath.

But on Sunday, inside the swap meet, between Clermont and Vanderbilt avenues, Flea enthusiasts calmly praised it, while conceding some ground to the upset neighbors.

“I’m very positive about the Flea and understand the concerns,” said Wai Sze Zara, who sells jewelry.

She said it’s a great venue because of the high-quality of the independent vendors’ goods, which are screened prior to being allowed into the market, and the relaxed atmosphere.

“A lot of people here are small entrepreneurs. It’s a good vibe and I’d hate to see it go.”

A T-shirt vendor beneath the tent put it in existential terms.

“We live for this,’ said Sarah Adams, who said Brooklyn Flea has already acquired a nationwide reputation for excellence.

Not everyone in Fort Greene does, however. On Sunday, there were some verbal scrapes about parking changes on Lafayette Avenue, where Queen of All Saints church, across the street from the Flea, has been given some reserved parking for its congregation by police in response to the brouhaha. Its neighbor, the Brooklyn Masonic Temple, claimed spots for itself by setting up bright cones in front of its building.

And three days earlier, at a meeting at the Queen of All Saints, emotions ran hot, and sometimes vaguely racial, as Flea market supporters and opponents clashed. The mood continued on Sunday, when at least one man saw a deeper issue in the debate:

“There’s an undercurrent that they’re bringing civilization to the natives,” said Ernest Augustus, a board member at Cadman Memorial Congregation church, on Lafayette Avenue.

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Reader Feedback

Fred from Albany says:
Ernest Augustus is so off target. There is no undercurrent. The site was chosen because of its size and availability. It's about a dream and it's a business. The school is happy because of the revenue (aren't they a Christian school). Some vendors are making money, the security and clean up crews have work (new jobs) and the organizers, I hope, are making money too. It's unfortunate that the church isn't willing to sit down and truly work it out. The anger is way too strong and it's almost comical how anti-Christian their attitude is. So it's not a conspiracy, it's not about Jews or Christians, it's about business. Look at the make up of the vendors.
July 31, 2008, 2:10 pm

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