Friday, September 26, 2014

Sunday at the Brooklyn Flea Market

I've been wanting to go to the Brooklyn Flea Market for quite some time. It is always mentioned in articles about the best flea markets in the country, and it has been featured a few times on Lara Spencer's shows about flea market flips. I love flea markets: the food, the people-watching, the idea of finding a treasure for pennies (or at least, a good deal). And I have read recently about a resurgence in Brooklyn and how it is becoming cool and trendy.
The train station at Ronkonkoma.

Recently I took a mini vacation to visit my family on Long Island, so I thought this would be the perfect time to visit the "flea," as it's affectionately called. I took the train from Ronkonkoma (love those Long Island Native American place names!) to the Staples Center stop in Brooklyn, and then from there, took a taxi to the flea market. There are two locations for the Brooklyn Flea: Williamsburg and Fort Greene. I chose the Williamsburg Flea because I'd read online that the location was on the water and really pretty. This turned out to not be true. At least, I saw no water while I was there, and the location seemed to be surrounded by derelict, graffiti-covered warehouses. (By the way, I recommend following the Brooklyn Flea on Instagram. Awesome and inspiring photos).
Glassware displayed on a glass table.
 When I first arrived at the flea market, I was surprised by how small it was. I somehow expected rows upon rows of vendors, stretching as far as the eye could see. But in reality, the market only occupied on square city block, and the last two rows of booths were for the food vendors. I was able to see all of the booths in just one hour. I walked through the whole market, making a mental note of the items I was most interested in, had a snack, then walked through the whole thing again to finalize my purchases.
The grounds of the flea on a Sunday morning in September.
 Speaking of snacks, I had the MOST AMAZING DONUTS IN THE WHOLE WORLD while at the flea. They were created by a bakery called Dough Brooklyn, and it breaks my heart to know that you can only get them in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and they don't ship! Believe me, I asked. These donuts are big - enough for two people to share (but you won't want to!). They are the fluffy and light, yeast-raised type (as opposed to the denser, cake-type). And they are covered in delicious, gourmet glaze flavors. I got two to share: Passion Fruit Cacao Nib, and Chocolate Salted Caramel. Even though the day got pretty hot, and the glaze got pretty melty and messy, I loved every bit of them. If you are in the area, you have got to try them!
Fab Mid-Century Modern sofa, an industrial-style lamp, vintage bowling pins.
 I only purchased four items at the market - (which I will show off in my next post) - even though I wanted many more things. One, I was worried about fitting more stuff in to my already overstuffed luggage, and two, a lot of the prices were kind of high. This was especially true with the vintage clothing sellers. While I was there, I saw so many funky and fashionably dressed people shopping there that I suspect it is a favorite haunt of fashion students and fashion junkies. Regardless, even though I fell in love with several pieces, and bargaining was obviously the norm, I couldn't justify the high prices, especially since I don't even need anymore clothes!
Shabby chic white-washed dressers ...
 There were a lot of mid-century modern furnishings and home accessories, which is really a hot style right now. And there were a lot of shabby chic and industrial style items, as well. Along with the vintage sellers, there were almost an equal amount of artisans and craftpersons. Lots of handmade jewelry, some handmade furniture, some ceramics, etc.
... plus matching chairs, end tables, and shelving.
 Trolling the booths was very inspiring. I wanted to get back home and create. I had my sketchbook with me, and every once in a while, jotted down a quick sketch of some detail or idea I didn't want to forget. One thing I wished is that there were more places to sit. It was a very hot, sunny day, and the seating was limited to a handful of picnic tables in the sun, which were all filled with snackers and lunchers.
Loved his display: muslin ribbons
 Sometimes the designs of the booths were inspiring too. For instance, the guy above is selling handmade jewelry, which I didn't find that interesting, but I loved the curtain behind him, made up of strips of muslin, hand-dyed in indigo blue. So bohemian and crafty!

A little bit pricey, but pretty cool.

Wooden drawers, luggage, mirrors
 It was a bit overwhelming at times. Even though the market was pretty small, most booths overflowed with a jumble of miscellany, and it was challenging to absorb it all.
Rusty letters

Burlap feed sack upholstered bench with hairpin legs.

Toy guns.
 The photos above (the toy guns) and below (creepy dolls) were part of a cool booth that had lots of vintage toys and collectables. There was a trio of petite, pastel, plastic toy phones just calling my name. I asked the price and the seller said $8 a piece. I hesitated, looked around a bit more, and then they were snatched away by another shopper!
Large jumble of creepy dolls.

Opening up my coconut. (MaryJane socks!)
 There were so many enticing food booths to choose from. Lots of ethnic foods: Indian, Thai, African, Hispanic, Greek, Soul food. Mid-morning, I got really thirsty and decided to get an "Ice Cold Fresh Coconut Water." The seller sliced off the top of the coconut with what looked like a machete, right after you bought it, then punctured it with a screwdriver, and stuck in a straw. It was not anywhere near "ice cold" unfortunately, but it was still delicious and fresh.
Business run from a vintage trailer!
 Another really cool booth was housed in this vintage trailer. One of the sellers sat inside at a little cash register, in the cool shade. There were more clothes for sale inside the trailer, but it was pretty tiny, and with the heat, I didn't think I could take the closeness. Still, I envied their life. This couple apparently travel around the country in this adorable trailer, selling vintage wares at flea markets. What a fantasy! (Sad note: I just visited their website and found out they were in Chicago today and today only! I missed them! They are on their way west for the winter...).
Cute vintage corduroy jumper.
 The photo of the corduroy jumper (above) does not quite do it justice. It was so cute (but alas, tiny). I want to recreate it for myself. Aside from the amber ale-colored main fabric, there are two small contrast cotton prints. The two prints are patchworked together on the hem, and the inset in the center of the empire waist. There are also the adorable tie closures at the center front. I am determined to make this to wear to school this fall.
Mid-century Modern Artwork. Only $60!
I almost bought this striking painting. It was well priced and the colors were amazing. The only things that stopped me were the thought of trying to get it back to Chicago, and the fact that I could recreate it for myself at home. And that's what I plan to do!

I highly recommend a visit to the Brooklyn Flea. They are open year-round, sometimes at indoor locations. Wear good walking shoes, bring a water bottle, lather on the sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring cash, because not all the merchandise booths, and none of the food vendors, take credit cards. Enjoy!