Sticker shock! Brooklyn Flea charging entry fee this winter

Sticker shock! Brooklyn Flea charging entry fee this winter
Brooklyn Flea

Call it the Brooklyn fee!

Hipster tchotchke market Brooklyn Flea is now charging people to shop — channeling Costco and Sam’s Club by requiring visitors to its indoor winter incarnation to cough up a buck to browse the aisles of screen-printed tote bags and jewelry made from old bike parts.

But the market’s honchos claim it is a necessary evil — they moved the cold-weather market back to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building at 1 Hanson Pl. in Fort Greene after four years elsewhere because they think it is the most lucrative venue for their vendors, but the landmarked space doesn’t come cheap and they need the extra moolah to cover the rent.

“We’re at 1 Hanson so our vendors can succeed in the winter and the only way to do that was to charge the very humble, modest fee of $1 per person,” said Flea co-founder Eric Demby.

The organizers of the winter bric-a-brac bazaar first set up shop in the historic building on Hanson and Ashland Place in 2010, but moved out in 2012 due to rising rents, Demby said.

They hopped around the borough and used Industry City last winter, but some vendors were unhappy that they and shoppers had to schlep all the way to Sunset Park, and one says he thinks the more central location is worth the extra buck.

“It’s not a lot to charge, you pay more for a bottle of water,” said Joe Morrone of Recycled Brooklyn, which makes furniture out of eco-friendly materials. “I’d rather pay for centralized convenience and not having to walk from the subway.”

Morrone said he’d be have no problem refunding the buck back to buyers who are unhappy about the new entry fee, but he hopes the price-tag will filter out fair-weather attendees who aren’t serious about shopping.

“I feel like it makes the crowd a little bit more serious as far as buyers,” he said.

But around 8,000 people still filed through the narrow hall during the Winter Flea’s kick-off last weekend, Demby says, and one hawker reports that the extra charge didn’t seem to slow down business at all.

“It certainly didn’t seem to affect the crowd on the weekend,” said Claudia Pearson, who designs tote bags and tea towels with Brooklyn-centric designs. “I was nervous, I thought it might put people off, but a dollar is such a tiny amount so I think it’s okay.”

Demby claims a portion of each buck will go to Food Bank of New York City, which distributes free food to those who can’t afford it, but he hasn’t worked out exactly how much will go to charity — probably 10 to 20 cents of each dollar, he said.

The Winter Flea at the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building (1 Hanson Pl. at Ashland Place in Fort Greene, www.brooklynflea.com). Saturdays and Sundays through March 2017. $1, kids under 16 free.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill