Brooklyn Flea is fleeing Williamsburg

Brooklyn Flea is fleeing Williamsburg
John von Pamer

Brooklyn Flea is bouncing from Williamsburg!

The famed hipster bric-a-brac bazaar is ditching its longtime outpost on the neighborhood’s waterfront this summer and moving it to Dumbo, and its co-founder says it may never return to the nabe because it is too hard to find a good location there these days.

“The amount of unused space dwindles every day,” said Eric Demby. “We don’t have any plans to move back now but we’ll see how it goes.”

The Flea, which began in Fort Greene in 2008, opened its first Williamsburg branch in 2011 and has occupied several different parks along the neighborhood’s shoreline since then.

The tchotchke emporium has had a rocky relationship with residents over the years — many accused it of monopolizing the neighborhood’s limited public green space, while some local vendors complained that it became too big and touristy and was charging too much for a table — but it has nevertheless become a renowned part of the neighborhood and a draw for out-of-town visitors.

But the Flea has to flee its most recent Williamsburg location — the concrete block formerly known as Williamsburg Park and now dubbed 50 Kent — because the city needs to scrub its current space for toxic waste so it can finally expand neighboring Bushwick Inlet Park.

The new location, opening next month, will be around the Manhattan Bridge archway. It will be smaller than the Williamsburg incarnation and cater to the cashed-up local populace by focusing more on pricey vintage clothing, antiques, and collectables and less on handmade goods and food, Demby said.

The Flea is no stranger to Dumbo — it ran a small market at Front and Washington streets in 2008, and had a location of its food-focused offshoot Smorgasburg in a gutted warehouse next to the Brooklyn Bridge in 2012.

And Dumbo boosters are buzzed to have the marketplace back in their cobblestone streets.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Flea to Dumbo,” said Clara Schuhmacher, director of communications for pro-business group the Dumbo Business Improvement District, which worked with Demby to find it a new home. “It’s a treat for our residents and workforce to have the market in our backyard.”

The Flea will still maintain a presence in Williamsburg via Smorgasburg, which will return to East River State Park on Saturdays starting April 2.

Brooklyn Flea at Pearl Plaza (50 Adams St. at Water Street in Dumbo, www.brooklynflea.com), Sundays starting April 3, 10 am–5pm. Free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
A new place to call home: Brooklyn Flea co-founders Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler will set up shop in Dumbo beginning next month, using the neighborhood’s fabled archway as a site for their popular pop-up market.
Photo by Louise Wateridge