The organizers of Dekalb Market will not reopen their shipping container bazaar this year after it shuts down on Sept. 30 — reversing a promise to debut in a new location for the lucrative holiday season.
Frustrated small business owners say they’re stuck without a place to peddle their wares this fall and winter because Urban Space, the firm that runs the new-age souk, broke their leases to make room for development on the Downtown lot, then failed to find a new site for the market.
“All I’ve learned is that Urban Space doesn’t follow through on their word,” said Andriana Spence, the owner of the hip baby shop Hank & Jojo, who claims retailers make 50 to 60 percent of their gross sales during the holidays. “Holiday applications for other locations were due in July, so … for Urban Space to wait until this week to tell people they’re not moving is denying these vendors the chance to make up that money.”
Urban Space previously promised to “move and reopen in the space of a few weeks” when it announced that it would vacate the current market in early October to make way for the long-planned City Point development, which is slated to include a Century 21 and potentially Brooklyn’s tallest building.
But relocating the market in 2012 proved impossible for Urban Space, which is still seeking a better bazaar site.
“Look, we are a 60-container market and there are not that many available spaces that are the right fit in terms of size, location, and long-term status,” said spokesman Adam Zucker. “Long story short is we need to find the right new location.”
The lack of a winter market is only the latest grievance from vendors frustrated by what they say was a landlordship marked by inconsistency, and, some allege, inconsideration.
Email chains between vendors obtained by this newspaper reveal shop owners ticked off by what they describe as poor organization and mismanagement on the part of their landlord.
Many complained about DeKalb Market’s weekend parties, which drew crowds but barred shoppers who didn’t want to pay an expensive cover charge — an annoyance that vendors claim deprived them of business at peak times.
Others complained about spotty electricity service early on in the season.
“Their PR is all this talk about how the market is an incubator for small business and how their goal is to support and grow start-ups but when it came down to it, when we were voicing concerns and saying our businesses were in trouble, they did not seem to care,” said Spence, who claims she gained good contacts through the venture but came out in the red due to problems including ticketed weekend parties and electrical woes.
Other vendors, such as Maxcine DeGouttes of the yarn shop Stitch Therapy, said she wouldn’t have signed a lease in April in the first place if she knew the market would close up shop so soon.
Many vendors said they have soured on the idea of working with the company again, despite its role organizing high-profile Manhattan markets in Union Square, the Meatpacking District, and Madison Square Park.
“The whole situation was based on deceit; they made a lot of promises they didn’t keep,” said Briian Dargon, who ran his clothing company, Bsixtee6, out of the market from its first day last July until last week. “We thought that we had a permanent place at least through the holidays and that we would be able to recoup our money. I don’t think anyone was prepared to move before the holidays were done.”
Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.