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Flea market promises bargains

Fort Greene — which this spring will host Brooklyn’s first destination flea market — may succeed Chelsea as the new go-to place for bargain-hunting aesthetes.

The flea market, which will set up tent in the capacious Bishop Loughlin HS schoolyard in the middle of one of Brooklyn’s hottest neighborhoods, will have as many as 100 vendors, ranging from antique watch to antique furniture sellers. And for those merely content to stuff their faces and window shop, there may even be food from local restaurants.

It’s all the brainchild of Jonathan Butler, the man behind the real-estate blog, Brownstoner. Butler is not merely content to help wealthy types buy new digs in Brownstone Brooklyn; now he wants to help them furnish the house, too.

It’s the Internet mini-mogul’s debt to history. (History? How old media!)

“In my 20s, just about every weekend I went to flea markets, the 26th Street flea markets [in Manhattan] in particular,” explained Butler.

Development has since displaced or diminished those bazaars, said Butler. He thinks Brooklyn’s time has come.

And he’s tested the market. On Sept. 8, Butler held a so-called “Salvage Fest” outside of PS 11 on Waverly Avenue, during which architectural salvage vendors sold wares to hundreds of enthusiastic Brooklynites.

“Brooklyn seems a logical place for a flea market to flourish,” he said. “Space is easier to come by, and the number of creative people and people looking for a bargain all conspire to make it a good idea.”

Others agree. In the 24 hours since Butler first announced the idea on his blog, 40 vendors have contacted him, he said. The schoolyard, on Lafayette Avenue, between Clermont and Vanderbilt avenues, can hold 100 vendors.

Once the market opens, tentatively the Sunday after Easter, Butler envisions Brooklynites and wayward Manhattanites making a day of it in Fort Greene: brunching on DeKalb Avenue, and then wandering over to the flea market to check out the antiques, vintage watches and vinyl records.

At least one restaurateur is thrilled.

“I think it’s brilliant,” said Catherine Saillard, the owner of Ici, a French restaurant on DeKalb Avenue. “Anything that would be bring more people would be great.”

And those visitors might even come away with a steal.

Butler says he’s found plenty of choice items at flea markets in his time, including a good portion of his 2,000-strong vinyl collection and a George Nelson credenza. “Part of the fun is the thrill of the hunt,” he said.

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