Best flea markets
Stock up on one-of-a-kind antiques, used records and vintage clothing at five of our favorite fleas, then grab a bite at nearby eateries.
Mon Jul 13 2009
Illustration: Jrme Mireault, colagene.com
Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market
(39th St between Ninth and Tenth Aves; 212-243-5343, hellskitchenfleamarket.com; Sat, Sun 9am--6pm)
The vibe: Secondhand items reign at this market, which features more than 50 vendors shilling designer clothing, vintage vases and plates, and everything in between. It gets crowded quickly, so come early (by 10am) for a first pass at the vendors’ wares.
What we found: An assortment of designer handbags (including Louis Vuitton and Prada) priced as low as $35, old soul and R&B records from $2 apiece and weathered wooden crates ($40 each).
Postshopping snack: If you dropped all your dough on a Chanel purse (or a possible knockoff—hey, it happens!), hit up Two Boots (625 Ninth Ave between 44th and 45th Sts, twoboots.com) for a cheap, filling piece of pizza; try the Earth Mother, a thick-crust slice topped with veggies.
(112 W 25th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-243-5343, hellskitchenfleamarket.com; Sat, Sun 9am--5pm)
The vibe: The name is not a misnomer: More than 100 vendors can be found on two levels of this Manhattan parking garage. The upper level is less populated, but offers a wide array of vintage prints, while the lower level is where more of the vendors (and shoppers) congregate.
What we found: A pristine Optimo cigar canister from 1929 ($50); an assortment of gem-encrusted rings, bracelets and other baubles (ranging from $35 to $85); and a whole mess of vintage picture frames, some with old prints included, for $12.
Postshopping snack: All that browsing works up an appetite, so sate it at RUB (208 W 23rd St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, 212-524-4300), which serves authentic Kansas City--style barbecue.
(Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Lafayette Ave between Clermont and Vanderbilt Aves, Fort Greene; Sat 10am--5pm* Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park between Main and Water Sts, Dumbo; Sun 11am--6pm; brownstoner.com/brooklynflea)
The vibe: The Brooklyn Flea has expanded quickly, with more than 150 vendors, many of whom can be found at both markets. Hit the Fort Greene location for vintage clothing and records, and the park in Dumbo for upscale furniture and decorative items.
What we found: We coveted a bingo-ticket turner ($90), and took home a copy of Fantasy Records’ The Best of Lenny Bruce for a mere $5.
Postshopping snack: You won’t have to leave the markets to score good eats, including lobster rolls (around $13) from Red Hook Lobster Pound and a popsicle ($2.50) from People’s Pops. Expect lines at both.
P.S. 321 Flea Market
(180 Seventh Ave between 1st and 2nd Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-421-6763; Sat, Sun, call for open hours)
The vibe: Located on an elementary-school playground (the vendors set up camp around swing sets), the P.S. 321 Flea contains all sorts of bric-a-brac, with an emphasis on vintage clothing and furniture. You can also dig for randomly awesome treasures, like black-velvet paintings of Elvis and unicorns.
What we found: A set of mod, turquoise-upholstered recliners, in near-mint condition, caught our eye (even if the price tag—$550 apiece—was a bit steep). We left with a vintage tweed jacket ($30).
Postshopping snack: The Park Slope outpost of Miracle Grill (222 Seventh Ave between 3rd and 4th Sts, 718-369-4541) has a patio for alfresco dining. Treat yourself to huevos rancheros with blue-corn tortillas ($9.95).
(Columbus Ave between 76th and 77th Sts; 212-239-3027; Sun 10am--5:30pm)
The vibe: This market is a hodgepodge of old and new items; secondhand clothing shares space with discounted beauty goods and handmade jewelry. If you’re looking for furniture, there are at least ten vendors hawking cool, affordable antiques.
What we found: We loved a table fashioned out of an old Singer sewing machine and a butcher block ($155), from Garden’s Edge Antiques. Also look out for Toaster Central, which sells working vintage toasters for as little as $45.
Postshopping snack: Chow down on a ShackBurger ($4.75--$7.25) and a thick concrete (like the nabe-specific Natural History “Crunch-stellation,” with Valrhona chocolate and caramel; $6.75) at Shake Shack (366 Columbus Ave at 77th St, 646-747-8770).
Williamsburg Flea Market
(Wythe Ave between South 2nd and 3rd Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; williamsburgfleamarket.com; Sun noon--6pm)
The vibe: This brand-new market, which opened in June, is still finding its footing. On a recent visit, we found no more than 15 vendors crowded onto an old parking lot, with an emphasis on handcrafted items and secondhand clothing. But organizer Richard Kelly, who lives just blocks from the market, promises as many as 60 vendors down the line, selling antiques and vintage finds along with the crafts, as well as monthly parties with DJs, booze and on-site activities like bocce.
What we found: The antique tables and chairs by Sit and Read Furniture (from $65) caught our eye, as did the sweet treats from Kumquat Bakery and Fine and Raw Chocolates. This flea also offers space to local charities, including Billyburg animal shelter BARC, which is there each week.
Postshopping snack: Nearby joint Miss Favela (57 South 5th St at Wythe Ave, 718-230-4040) hosts a swingin’ Sunday brunch with traditional Brazilian dishes and forr dancing.
Chelsea Antiques & Showcase
(Sixth Ave at 17th St, 212-627-0667; Sat, Sun 4am--6pm)
The vibe: CAS is another example of a tiny market that’s packed to the gills with old stuff. Not all of it is in excellent condition—a table of battered-looking Polaroid cameras is a bit underwhelming—but thorough searchers will be rewarded. As always, try to arrive before 10am to beat the crowds.
What we found: There were stacks of used books from all genres for $1 apiece, as well as literal piles of secondhand clothing (which were constantly surrounded by bargain-hungry shoppers). You can also score vintage mirrors and prints.
Post-shopping snack: Fuel up with some homestyle mac ’n’ cheese ($10.95) at Chat 'n’ Chew (10 E 16th St between Union Sq West and Fifth Ave, 212-243-1616).
Consider the unique spoils at these three bazaars
The Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market is located near what locals call “Little West Africa,” and that influence is reflected in the selection and food. 116th St between Fifth Ave and Malcolm X Blvd (Lenox Ave) (212-987-8131). Daily 10am--8pm.
We’ve heard the Aqueduct Flea Market referred to as the city’s only open-air 99 store. Rockaway Blvd and 110th St, Ozone Park, Queens (718-738-9571). Tue, Sat, Sun 9am--4pm; $1--$2.
The Indoor Artist & Designer Market is run by Artists & Fleas, which also organizes a vintage market next door, and a pop-up market in McCarren Park (Sat 10am--6pm). 129 North 6th St between Bedford Ave and Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (artistsandfleas.com). Sat, Sun noon--8pm.