Vendors fleeing Brooklyn Flea, rival says

Vendors fleeing Brooklyn Flea, rival says
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

They’re jumping fleas.

A new flea market set to open in Bushwick has poached several Brooklyn Flea vendors for its operation, luring them away with lower prices and cushier conditions, the czar of the upstart bazaar claims.

The founder of the new Bushwick Flea, which will open on April 4 just off the Jefferson Avenue L stop, said he started the new business venture partially out of frustration with the Brooklyn Flea’s high vendor costs and strict rules.

“The Brooklyn Flea is great, but it is very big and touristy, and ours will be a little cozier and more neighborhood-like,” said market owner Rob Abner, who rented a lot on Wyckoff Avenue between Willoughby Avenue and Suydam Street and plans to offer space to about 50 vendors and also host other events through the end of the year.

The Brooklyn Flea charges too much, does not offer discounts for repeat vendors, and will not allow vendors to sell their wares anywhere else, Abner claims. He plans to rent Bushwick Flea vendor spaces for $75 per day or a discounted rate of $500 for a month. For comparison, Brooklyn Flea charges $150 a day or $1,200 per month.

Abner, who sells antiques and also defected from Brooklyn Flea this year, said he managed to steal away at least half a dozen vendors from the marquee market.

“A lot of people have found out our prices and come to us,” said Abner. “If you vend at Brooklyn Flea, you cannot vend anywhere else. They are not happy with us.”

Brooklyn Flea co-owner Eric Demby declined to comment on the new flea, saying he would reserve judgment until he experienced it first-hand. He also said that Brooklyn Flea’s policy of not allowing vendors to set up tables at other markets was “not a hard and fast rule.”

The northern reaches of Brooklyn has seen a veritable infestation of flea markets in the past couple of years, as eager entrepreneurs have attempted to follow the Brooklyn Flea into the marketplace. Those include Brooklyn Flea Betty, which opened and quickly closed in Williamsburg last year, and Schwick Market of Makers, which is on a dead-end street near the corner of Willoughby and Myrtle avenues in Bushwick.

But Demby said his market can withstand the competition.

“People come to the Brooklyn Flea from all over the world, and another market coming in does not threaten us,” said Demby.

Brooklyn Flea is slated to open its titular venture and adjoining Smorgasburg food fair on the weekend of April 4. But the market may not run in Williamsburg for the first few weeks, as cleanup continues on the burned CitiStorage building.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at dfurfaro@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.