Best for furniture: Hell's Kitchen Flea Market and Meeker Avenue Flea Market

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Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market | Meeker Avenue Flea Market

1. What you’ll find
Since it opened in September 2009, this Williamsburg shopping spot has undergone a few changes in its personality and wares, but the 90,000-square-foot former factory space has finally found its bearings. Where the market briefly offered standard stalls full of run-of-the-mill flea stuff, you can now browse an impressive hodgepodge of low-priced vintage furniture and home accessories (ranging from $20 to $600), dated mostly from the 1920s through the 1950s (and rarely anything later than the 1980s). Expect a shopping experience reminiscent of an old-school yard-sale: tons of total junk, but many gems for hunters prepared to tackle the jumble.

2. The lay of the land
Goods are marked with labels designating the property of more than 200 vendors from the tristate area, who stay off-site and deposit their pieces on consignment. The first floor is intended to help you envision how furniture might be arranged in an individual’s home (simulating a living room here, a kitchen there), though the result is more “antiques mall.” The second floor groups items together more categorically (chairs to the left, old restaurant-supply steel tables in the far back, around $400).

3. Shop like a set designer
Do not come here looking for ultraluxe antiques. This is a true flea market—where you’ll have to hunt to find deals amid damages and DIYs. Of course, that’s the fun of it, so think creatively before dismissing a scratched surface on a 1960s decorative side table ($30) or 1920s wooden movie-theater seats ($90 each). In fact, finds like those have turned the mishmash into a prime source for set decorators and film stylists. Potential props we spotted on a recent visit: an oversize tin Tetley Tea sign ($300), 1950s ice-cream-parlor chairs ($50) and a disturbing wheeled wooden mortician’s board from the 1930s ($350).

4. It’s more than furniture
Oddities aplenty can double as statement home accents. Downstairs is the mecca for assorted bric-a-brac and curios, where every aisle and corner holds surprises like a banjo case ($35), 1960s mint-condition bowling shoes in their original carrying case ($20), 1920s steel roller skates ($22), vintage horseshoes ($5) or 1950s wicker baby strollers ($120).

5. Keep your eyes peeled for items tagged AVH
Those initials belong to Williamsburg cabinetmaker Andr van Hoek, owner of Retro-futuristic (retrofuturistic.com), a neighborhood woodworking shop that also restores vintage mobile homes. A decades-long interest in static caravans has led him to a side life of collecting and selling industrial, midcentury and farm furniture and kitsch from out of state. If you see Van Hoek while you’re browsing his wares—like a vintage chemistry set ($16) and an assortment of vintage wooden sleds ($26--$40)—ask him about his love of industrial design and his preservationist M.O. “I’m doing this as a social protest,” he says. “I’m dismayed at the waste and carnage of materials—it’s sad how much people throw out.” You can also find him in person occasionally at the Brooklyn Flea, where he sells a lot of vintage eyeglasses.

6. Pull up a seat
Anyone looking for inexpensive seating should head directly upstairs, where, against the left wall, rows and rows of lightweight chairs are lined up. Recent sightings: a set of six mod faux-Eames white leather dining chairs ($325), a Starck-inspired Lucite folding chair ($25) and authentic Herman Miller padded wire chairs ($100 each).

7. Schoolroom chic
There are enough colorful 1950s Heywood-Wakefield school chairs ($40 each) here to fill a classroom. Pair them with individual and group desks (mostly from the 1960s), which start at $50. To re-create the collegiate experience in your home, venture to the far back corner of the second floor.

8. Cat alert
You might notice a particularly odorific corner upstairs. The culprit: the litter box of resident feline Sphinxy. Those with phobias or allergies, consider yourself warned.

9. No schlepping necessary
Locals can haul away their merch using the market’s curbside delivery service ($25 within Brooklyn; rates outside of Brooklyn start at $40).

10. TONY deal: TONY discount! Bring in a copy of this article to get 10 percent off all purchases through July 21.

Postflea: Grab a PBR ($3, two for $5) at pool-supply-store-turned-bar Union Pool (484 Union Ave at Meeker Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-609-0484, unionpool.blogspot.com), while a live DJ spins tunes nightly starting at 10pm.

GO THERE NOW!
Meeker Avenue Flea Market, 391 Leonard St at Meeker Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-302-3532, meekeravenuefleamarket.com). Year-round. Mon--Wed, Sat, Sun 11am--7pm; Thu, Fri 11am--9pm.

Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market | Meeker Avenue Flea Market

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It’s flea market season in NYC—go hunting for vintage and designer treasures so good, you won’t miss the air-conditioning.

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