AUTHOR Zoe Schlanger
The flea market: an amalgam of culture, a mash of trendy and traditional. It’s really quite interesting—ironic, let’s say—that the flea market functions as a point where the old is overhauled into the hip and new. Hipster culture and greener sensibilities among the young folk has helped tremendously, of course. When twenty-somethings want to wear chunky eighties sweaters and want to outfit their apartments with 1950s tin boxes and defunct musical instruments, you could say flea culture has hit its peak. This is huge.
Flea markets are revolutions under tents. They wed trendy consumerism to sustainable reuse, and cut out the middleman entirely. What better trading post is there?
But perhaps most importantly, fleas are great fun. Treasure troves waiting to be scoured. So get out, hone your haggling skills, and score some neat knick-knacks.
Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market (Sat, Sun 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. — 39th St. between 9th and 10th Ave.)
There’s a reason Hell’s Kitchen Flea has established itself as the mecca of NYC markets — it’s a treasure trove of secondhand everything, and it’s purse-friendly with relatively low prices and haggle-tolerant vendors. Mixed in with the killer thrift are farm stands selling fresh produce, flowers and organic breads. Take the E train, get there early, and comb through the piles of vintage jeans, antique jewelry, musical instruments, records and random knickknacks that will at least give your prison cell-sized sublet a homey feel.
Brooklyn Flea (Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. — 176 Lafayette Ave. between Clermont and Vanderbilt Ave., Fort Greene)
It’s not the traditional flea in the used-stuffs sense: many of the Brooklyn Flea vendors are artists selling their handmade items, which can mean anything from a $100 pair of hand-hewn wood bookends to $5 custom-mixed funk CDs, and mostly everything is incredibly unique if not totally affordable. Still, a trip to Brooklyn Flea on a warm Saturday morning is worth it just for the spectacle (droves of the funkily-clad) and the food (really, really good). Bring some cash and try the People’s Pops Popsicles, Kumquat Cupcakery and McClures’ Pickles, but maybe not together. That could be a long C train ride home.
The Market NYC (Fri – Sun, 11 a.m. – 7p.m. – Mulberry St. and East Houston St.)
Also called the Young Designer’s Market, one Yelper summed it up best: “hip and kitschy, with semi-affordable wears slung by independent up and coming designers who wet dream about being cast on Project Runway.” Indeed, the gymnasium that houses this market in Nolita is packed with young vendors fresh from design school, many of them actually sewing, knitting, stringing and printing things at their booths. Come here for some seriously one-of-a-kind jewelry and printed tees, and perhaps even watch the wet-dreamers at work. Fierce.
GreenFlea (Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Columbus Ave. between 76th and 77th St.)
GreenFlea is the quintessential flea market, boasting a high-quality conglomeration of secondhand booths that share the outdoor space with tables of handmade goods like hammered-tin mirrors and Tibetan rugs. Find everything from funky old chairs to working vintage toasters to a leather trench coat from the 70s. Haul your new finds over to the Shake Shack on the same block, then sit in Central Park and revel in your rummage glory.
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