From humble Brooklyn beginnings to a prime Manhattan location, the Brooklyn Flea has become big business for its vendors.
The Flea, which first sprung up about two years ago in Fort Greene, means a lot of things to a lot of its merchants, some of whom are there for their livelihoods and others just to sell their wares as a hobby.
For the holiday, the Flea jumps out of its Brooklyn comfort zone into Manhattan with its pop-up market, Gifted, at 20 E. Fourth St. The downtown market, hosting 52 vendors from pickle shops to clothing stands, is the “anti-mall,” according to Flea co-founder Eric Demby.
For Gifted merchants the shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas means big bucks. Demby said at least 5,000 potential customers browse the aisles daily.
Jeremy Schwartz, co-founder of Book City Jackets, estimated 60 percent of his yearly revenue would come from Gifted's six-week run.
Schwartz has noticed a distinct ambient change from the Flea's outdoor market.
"It's a different attitude that brings people here. In Brooklyn, the Flea is much more of an afternoon activity. Here in Manhattan, everyone has a one-track mind to shop, buy, and leave quickly," he said.
Patrick Chirico, president of Wrecords by Monkey, also has experience with the Brooklyn Flea and now Gifted. If sales of his bracelets are any indication, then Gifted has lifted his bottom line: In the Manhattan market he sells 50 to 100 a day and in Brooklyn it’s more like 30 to 50.
Both markets account for about 30 percent of his yearly revenue, but being part of the Flea community really helps him in marketing, Chirico said.
"When someone buys a bracelet at the Flea, he or she becomes a part of my other sales through telling their friends about it, and their friends buying my products,” he said. “This sort of guerrilla, viral advertising technique has really boosted sales."