Joe Lombardo sounds a bit like “Let’s Make a Deal’s” Wayne Brady as he hawks his vintage odds and ends at the grand opening of the Empire State Market in Uniondale.
“Take the drum for $50 and I’ll throw in these ribbons from a horse show and the black trunk,” Lombardo, the owner of the Hempstead Village estate clean-out company Warehouse 30, tells a woman who’s stopped to tap on a leather drum at the edge of his open-air stall earlier this month.
It was no sale as the customer frowned and walked away. But Lombardo, one of 120 vendors spread out on the asphalt behind the Nassau Coliseum, knew there’d be more opportunities for a sale. Also at his stall that day was a stuffed and mounted fish inside a shadow box that Lombardo picked up in St. Albans, Queens — and a lacquered wooden chest covered with exotic bird carvings.
With a constant supply of newly collected estate items, Lombardo says he plans to return regularly to the market, which is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays through December.
A TREASURE HUNT
For some visitors who came to shop and socialize on opening day, the Empire State Market recalls the glory days of the Roosevelt Raceway Flea Market, a part of Long Island’s past that is still fondly remembered although it closed in 1995.
“This is definitely not Roosevelt Raceway in its heyday. It’s not as built up yet, but we’ll see,” says Julie Franke, 48, of Long Beach, who was with her sister, Debbie Jurrist, 53, of Great Neck.
Bargain-hunting customers swarmed at tables with $2 costume jewelry and an outdoor dollar store featuring women’s pants in three bold patterns.
“I love thrifting and garage sales,” Jurrist says. “You get some great brands for one or two dollars.”
Other shoppers had a particular item in mind as they roamed the four aisles of new and used goods.
“I’m looking for something in my house, like a nice table,” says Carolyn Fernandez, 55, of West Hempstead.
Bob Brumale, manager and partner of Empire State Market, a private enterprise not affiliated with the state, says he expects to increase the number of vendors in coming weeks as the weather warms — opening day, April 8, was a sunny but coat-weather 45 degrees.
“I’ll have some upscale crafts people in the future, with glassware and fine art,” says Brumale, who also runs the New Meadowlands Market on Saturdays at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey — which attracts 450 vendors and more than 20,000 customers. He estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people at the Uniondale opening day.
The market also features about a half-dozen food concessions, including a corn dog and Italian sausage food truck, and a table where Dominican-style chicken and beef empanadas were going for $3 each or two for $5.
But the pickle stand was the sweet spot for most al fresco dining fans. The line includes Jurrist, Franke and about 20 other pickle lovers.
“It’s yummy,” Jurrist says, munching a half-dill, half-sour pickle after about a 15-minute wait.
Not all vendors were willing to haggle, however.
At another stall, Eddie Nankin, 57, of Ronkonkoma, says the $20 to $25 price was nonnegotiable on Vietnam-made wooden puzzle boxes, which are decorated with details such as praying hands.
Says Nankin, “This is not ‘Let’s Make a Deal,’ this is ‘The Price is Right.’ ”
EMPIRE STATE MARKET
WHEN | WHERE 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 23 in the parking lot at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale
INFO 973-789-1106, empirestatemarket.com
ALSO TRY . . .
WESTBURY MARKET FAIR
WHEN | WHERE 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through December in the NYCB Theatre at Westbury parking lot, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury
INFO 516-669-7541, westburymarketfair.com
You can also stretch your dollars on clothing, toys, jewelry, handbags, antiques, rugs and other items at this market. Expect 50 to 100 vendors who are generally willing to haggle, according to market manager Brian Baxter.