Scenes from a Flea

IMG_0664

THE PERIPATETIC BROOKLYN FLEA has a new winter home. It opened last weekend for the season at 1000 Dean Street in Crown Heights. The market was jam-packed yesterday afternoon — in fact, my friend and I couldn’t deal with the level of human crush at the Berg’n beer hall right next door, so we hied off to Cent’anni on Franklin Avenue for lunch, then returned to shop.

Some 100 antiques dealers and artisans, plus 30 food stalls, fill the recently renovated 30,000-square-foot space that was a Studebaker showroom in the 1920s. Reminiscent of Manhattan’s much-mourned 26th Street Flea Market, which for decades was New York’s favorite antiques-hunting ground, the Brooklyn Flea is worth a browse for reasonably priced, one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, vintage furnishings and lighting, and assorted bric-a-brac.

Open Saturdays and Sundays from 10AM-6PM, it’s a fun new weekend activity for locals and visitors alike (much French was overheard). Clearly the place to be.

IMG_0643 IMG_0647 IMG_0648 IMG_0660 IMG_0641 IMG_0652 IMG_0644 IMG_0653 IMG_0645 IMG_0654 IMG_0658

A-Junking We Will Go

IT’S GOOD TO KNOW eBAY HASN’T KILLED IT OFF ENTIRELY. I’m talking about junking — the time-honored act of rising early and heading out to flea markets and yard sales to find old, cheap, secondhand stuff that is dinged and dented and rusted and otherwise in dire need of fixing up to turn it into something useful and charming and possibly even re-sellable.

I started junking more than thirty years ago, which only goes to show how old I am. (We were more likely to call it antiquing then — in those days, you might actually find something genuinely old for 50 cents or a dollar.) But to judge by the number of blogs about junking, and a new magazine, Flea Market Style, that debuts today, the pursuit of junk is alive and well, eBay be damned.

Personally, I no longer have the patience to turn tea kettles into lamps or doll beds into coffee tables, let alone drive hundreds of miles in search of maybe nothing. I’m jaded from years of beating the bushes here on the Eastern seaboard, while pickings got thinner and thinner — although the epicenter of today’s junking craze seems to be the heartland, where barns and attics are probably still full of desirable junk.

I’m also weary, perhaps, from three decades of writing about antiques and collecting and flea markets. I must have written forty “10 Hottest Collectible” stories. Meanwhile, Country Living magazine is still reporting on Lucite purses and wrought iron lawn furniture and restaurant china and Blenko glass as if they’re fresh discoveries. I guess, to young people, they are.

I was even half the team that created and produced an outdoor flea market in downtown Manhattan, Soho Fleas, in 1973 — so believe me, I know my way around junk. And jaded and cranky as I am, I can still muster a flicker of enthusiasm for the idea of taking a field trip this September to Junk Bonanza, a three-day annual junk round-up held in Shakopee, Minnesota (it’s the brainchild of Ki Nissauer, who is also co-editor of the new magazine).

Once you’ve got junk in your system, it’s hard to get it out.