Shwick the bucket: Bushwick flea market closes

Shwick the bucket: Bushwick flea market closes
Photo by Jason Speakman.

Call it a market stall.

The owners of a much-hyped Bushwick flea market closed up shop this past weekend after nine months in business, because their bazaar was losing too much money to keep its roller-doors open.

The Shwick Market of Makers opened to great fanfare from local media outlets last year. But its hidden location, in a graffiti-covered garage on a dead-end street near the corner of Myrtle and Willoughby avenues, was ultimately too remote to draw many visitors, and the customers who did show up didn’t have much cash to splash, said the market’s co-owner.

“There is not anything else to do around here and we are not big enough to entertain you for very long,” said Chris Carew, who founded the market with his wife Jinyen. “And the only things people spend money on in Bushwick are beer, coffee, and rent.”

The market started out with 25 vendors in September 2014, and grew to a rotating lineup of more than 100, with about 36 merchants on any given weekend peddling products including artisanal nut butters, robot-themed jewelry, candle-holders made from reclaimed timber, and vagina decals for MacBooks.

Carew said that he would be willing to take on an investor if anyone wants to chip in $100,000 to keep the market running, but he is not holding his breath.

Sunday was the last official Shwick, but the venue will host a hip-hop show on Tuesday, an art show on Friday, and possibly a party next weekend, said Carew.

Shwick is one of several small tchotchke emporiums that popped up around the borough following the runaway success of the Brooklyn Flea empire, which began in 2008 and now hosts weekly markets in Williamsburg, Fort Greene, and Park Slope, in addition to five Smorgasburg food markets around the city.

Not all have been quite so successful. Flea Market Betty, which opened in Williamsburg in July last year, does not seem to have returned this summer. And the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, which ran nocturnal markets and concerts at various locations in the borough from 2011, closed in June after the landlord of the Greenpoint warehouse it had been housed in for the previous year-and-a-half told it to scram to make way for a luxury car dealership.

But Kings County’s enthusiasm for musty vintage denim and jewelry fashioned out of old vinyl records has not been dampened, and several new markets have opened in their stead. A former Brooklyn Flea vendor launched Bushwick Flea on Wyckoff Avenue between Willoughby Avenue and Suydam Street in April, and Park Slope’s Mary’s Bar, at Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street, opened a small marketplace called Barnyard Flea in an empty lot behind the premises in May.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.
Market economy: Chris and Jinyen Carew in the space where they ran the Shwick flea market for nine months.
Photo by Jason Speakman.