Flea jumps: Artisan and food markets move to East River State Park

Flea jumps: Artisan and food markets move to East River State Park
The Brooklyn Paper / John Barclay

The Brooklyn Flea and its Smorgasburg food bazaar will move to East River State Park in a one-block shift that will transform a waterside green space into an artisan shopping mecca on Saturdays and Sundays.

The hugely popular markets will relocate from a lot between N. Sixth and N. Seventh streets to the parkland between N. Seventh and N. Eighth streets starting in April because their home of two seasons, a development site currently owned by Edge-builders Douglaston Development, is on the market and could interrupt the shopping season if sold, Brooklyn Flea co-owner Jonathan Butler said.

“If they sold it in July and we didn’t have another place to go, we’d be in trouble,” said Butler. “A lot of small businesses depend on this market.”

Smorgasburg will bring food sellers to a narrow concrete strip that takes up about 15 percent of the park on Saturdays from 11 am to 6 pm, while the handicraft, clothing, furniture, and bric-a-brac vendors of the Brooklyn Flea will set up their stalls from 10 am to 5 pm on Sundays.

A concert series that brought crowds to East River State Park sparked the ire of some neighbors in recent years due to noise and crowds, but neighborhood parks advocates are confident the weekend-long shop-a-thon won’t interfere with other park uses.

That’s mainly because most park-goers treat the open space as the borough’s answer to the Nile, with the majority of visitors opting to congregate on the banks of the river rather than spend time in the sweltering interior.

“I don’t see a ton of people using those platforms,” said Ryan Kuonen, an organizer of Neighbors Allied for Good Growth and a member of Community Board 1. “When the Renegade Craft Fair was here, I didn’t see it being a burden on the park.”

Kuonen admits that renting parks space to a private company isn’t ideal, but she is happy that the revenue raised could help add new amenities, or at least lessen the risk of a park closure — a real threat considering the state shuttered the green space in 2008 because it couldn’t afford to pay staffers.

“It’s better to do it weekly than to have to schedule festivals,” said Kuonen. “I knew when the concerts left that we would see things like this.”

State Parks spokesman Dan Keefe said the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg will pay $1,500 per day in rent, plus expenses to set up shop in the park.

That cash will be set aside for maintenance and operations at East River State Park.

The markets will be responsible for cleaning up after themselves, and parks staffers will stay on top of operators to make sure all trash is thrown away, Keefe said.

The Brooklyn Flea will still operate a Saturday market in Fort Greene, and Smorgasburg will continue luring foodies to Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sundays.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.