Brooklyn Markets


Car boot sales inevitably mean boxes of VHS videos and unwanted crapola spilling over a series of uneven pasting tables erected in the car parks of local rugby clubs; a mob of hoarders prepared to haggle over pennies; broiled burgers and the onset of hypothermia. Brooklyn's flea markets are similar, but with less risk of hypothermia, a more eclectic line in randorama and trinkets, and much better food.

Brooklyn Flea are the organisers of hugely popular events in the borough, drawing in visitors and residents from across the city. At one time their fleas could be found under the Brooklyn Bridge, but now there are two venues and events every weekend. One takes place every Saturday in Fort Greene at at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, and another every Sunday in Williamsburg by the East River - the later is definitely worth a visit, if not for the stalls then for the grandstanding views of Manhattan. The nearby East River State Park is nothing to write home about, sadly.

What will you find when you arrive? Local artists display and sell their latest work (a series of pen drawings on Post-It notes, anyone?), hipsters lounge about with their too-cool-for-school clothing lines and boxes of dollar records, but my favourite stalls are those dealing in pure Americana; elderly subway and street signs; the man with dozens of transistor radios in pristine condition. My best find on a recent trip were the guys selling antique signage and fairground games from Coney Island. Pure and unique nostalgia, but with a price tag to suit, of course. There's also a third event on Saturdays at the Williamsburg location - Smorgasburg - with over 100 food vendors serving up street food and ingredients, kitchenware and other paraphernalia. 

There are plenty of other independent fleas in the borough. If you're heading to Williamsburg, stop by the 
Artists and Fleas Indoor Market on North 7th Street. It's open every weekend and crammed full of stalls showcasing work by local artists, photographers and jewelry makers. Careful as you make your way round, though - the aisles are claustrophobic when it's busy and it's a little too easy to trip over a stall. Bedford Avenue, the main thorough of Williamsburg, is littered with second hand stores too - this neighbourhood is a mecca for lovers of bric-a-brac as well as damned good-looking hipsters.

Further afield, there's the more down-to-earth 
PS321 flea market every weekend in Brooklyn's Park Slope and several seasonal flea markets across Brooklyn. Bensonhurst is a neighbourhood far from the minds of tourists and most NYC residents, but during the warmer months you'll find the Church of the Holy Spirit flea market open for business and bargains from an altogether more local crowd. Still no broiled burgers though, which can only be a good thing.



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