I recently read an article on Brooklyn Flea Market, a venture started by two businessmen Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby when, in search of cheaper rents, they moved their families out of New York City to Brooklyn. Once settled in the area they soon realised that many other people had had the same idea and that their neighbourhood was mainly made up of freelance designers, artists and entrepreneurs, many of whom were trying to start creative businesses and wanted to be near the city, but just couldn’t afford New York rents.
Here they saw an opportunity. In order to capitalise on the talent in the area they rented out a schoolyard and started a weekend market, to provide an affordable place for the growing creative population in Brooklyn to showcase its wares. 7 years on the market is now the biggest in New York State and typically hosts 140 vendors every Saturday and Sunday. It draws customers for miles and on many occasions has been the catalyst a small, local business needs to get it off the ground before opening a shop.
Although timing was crucial, and the initial idea behind the flea market a business based one, Brooklyn Flea Market is a perfect example of how small businesses and creative talent can transform an area. How, as our big cities and centres of towns are increasingly out-pricing smaller independent retailers and start ups (the retailers at Brooklyn Flea couldn’t have afforded stalls in the centre of New York) by coming together and showcasing their talents collectively they can transform less affluent areas. As a homeowner a Brooklyn postcode is now the most sought after in New York State and living here is considered a choice not a substitute. It’s arguably a cooler place to be; a home in Brooklyn is a reflection of your personality rather than your bank balance.
The growing desirability of Brooklyn may not solely be down to the Flea Market, but it’s certainly helped, and there’s a reassuring message behind it. Its success proves that small businesses and independent producers shape a place’s personality. Much like Broadway Market in East London or Brixton Village in South London, a collection of small, independent suppliers creates a community that people want to be apart of, and that transforms what were once less desirable areas.
The reason this stood out is that it chimes so closely to Pixie. By giving small businesses a collective voice we allow them to be heard. The success of the Flea Market, and it’s effect on the local area, proves people value creativity and it shows they will seek out independent, local producers when they have a reassuring environment in which to find them. Pixie provides that space for businesses that maybe aren’t apart of a market or are harder to find. By telling their stories in a safe environment we expose harder to find talent, make it accessible to everyone and therefore help transform local communities.