Monday, September 21, 2009

A Day at the Franklin Flea Part II

Last week's Franklin Flea was rained out, but the weather co-operated this Saturday for another great day of fun at the market. The vendors I profiled two weeks ago were all back (with the exception of the Cain Brothers), as were the individuals selling the wares pictured above.

- Outside the fence on Franklin, Stacey has a table of semi-precious and costume jewelry that she collects from jewelers and craftsmen/women at trade shows. The Franklin Flea is her first such gig, branching out from the jewelery parties she hosts.

- Over Stacey's shoulder just inside the fence, Jackie and Freddie keep their own booths, both of which offer of various clothing, toys, appliances, and bric-a-brac at what Freddie promises are "very reasonable prices." While their wares are similar, their sources differ; Jackie's collection is primarily her own, acquired over the years and through friends who have items to sell, while Freddie purchases his clothing and many other items from overstocked wholesalers.

- Around the corner, Amanda sells her own leather handiwork and handmade girls' dresses in festive summer prints alongside loose cotton clothing, leather sandals, and bone-and-wood jewelery from Brazil.

- Along the back wall, Kevin (the artist known as Kev) has an array of his own original prints and drawings for sale, whose subject matter ranges from classically-proportioned archangels in flight to current figures in world politics. Rendered mostly in colored pencil, and often in black and white with colors added for accent or background effect, the works were priced well below even the art found in Union Square, in an effort, Kevin said, "to make this available to people in the neighborhood, people who might actually walk in here." As to his work, Kevin added "I've been doing this since I was 4 years old . . . I try to incorporate as much as I can into this, politics, religion, whatever it is, to have something for everyone."

Last time I wrote about the market, I was struck by the camaraderie of the marketeers and the strength of the social network they've developed, a network that includes local merchants as well as the stall-tenders and their customers. This time out, I realized that almost every vendor at the market is using it to try out their wares for the first time, to experiment, to go out on a limb. Much as Frank and Jason noted explicitly when I talked to them two weeks ago, Stacey, Kevin, and Amanda all mentioned that this was their first time selling their work in this sort of context, and that they were enjoying the experience. Flea markets rarely make their way into discussions of the entrepreneurial spirit, but right here in Crown Heights, in the middle of a recession that has by no means spared Brooklyn, a whole host of neighbors are making their first foray into their own businesses, engaging their passions and getting themselves out there.

The Flea may continue on into October, pending discussions with merchants and organizers, but next week's installment is the last sure thing of the year. Don't miss it!

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