Your Guide to Everything Brooklyn!

Ten Great Finds At The Brooklyn Flea

(Photos: via Emmy Thelander

Every weekend in Brooklyn, in the former bank vault of the retired Williamsburg Savings bank – there is an event to drive all hoarders and collectors mad. The Brooklyn Flea, held every Saturday outdoors in Fort Greene and every Sunday indoors at One Hanson Place – is a must-visit for everyone.  Walk past thick doors complete with interlocking gears and a large wheel, through a cylindrical portal and you will find a bazaar of vendors with a plethora of treasures to offer your wandering eyes: furniture, vintage goods, clothing, toys, food and so much more! After sorting through the texture of varied elements, here are ten of my favorite Brooklyn Flea finds:

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(Photo: courtesy of Totally Bruce)

Vintage Furniture from Totally Bruce
Totally Bruce, vendor of vintage furniture and operated by a humurous, but business-oriented man named Chris, had for sale a stunning white enamel, stand-alone kitchen cabinet with glass doors (shown above). The cabinet was just over five feet tall and included a portion of counter space and four sliding drawers. (Chris was asking $950). Totally Bruce’s offerings also included a sweet pair of mid-century armchairs, made of a dark wood with solid, slender legs, leather seat, and a square, sling-back profile ($350 for the set).

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2. Action Figures and View Masters from Far Far Away Toys
The table of Far Far Away Toys, across from chocolate and pickle vendors, featured an unbelievable supply of retro collectibles, mostly action figures, categorically displayed. A Ken-sized GI Joe in true silver NASA garb, laid sprawled horizontal in an open-faced box amidst dozens of Star Wars figures. Far Far Away also featured an exquisite collection of 3D View-Master slides. Check out the ones I got (shown above)  Gremlins, Disney on Parade, Full House, and an oldie from the 1950s: The Birth of Jesus.

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3.  Anthony Franck Textiles
Mr. Franck is the textile man. Tall and sober, he sat on a white folding chair surrounded by flat stacks of woven rugs and blankets. His prices were a steal: one piece, about two-and-a-half by five, over a hundred years old, was selling for $150. Mr. Franck could identify the period of a textile based on the pigments used for its dye. One of the most unique pieces he offered was a Turkish saddle rug—a small, thick blanket with patterns of fruit in faded, vivid pinks and blues. The rug shown above, from the 19th century, fell in the range of $450 to $600.

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(Photo: courtesy of Daniel Sklaar from Fine and Raw Flickr)

4.  Fine & Raw Chocolate
The Brooklyn Flea is not only a venue for vintage sweaters and action figures—it also hosts superb food vendors (some who distribute free samples!).  Fine & Raw Chocolates, propped next to a pickle vendor, uses Raw Cacao from the Ecuadorian rainforests to make their scrumptious artisan chocolates. (Did you know raw cacao was so valued to the Mayan and Aztec populations that it was used as currency?)  Fine & Raw’s samples ranged from bitter-salty (Crystals & Sea-salt bar) to the sweet, melting flavor of the Bon-Bon variety. You can purchase a bar for $8.50.

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5.  Vintage Lighting and Designer Handbags at the Mix Gallery
The Mix Gallery, which has a storefront in New Jersey, specializes in mid-century design and antiques. Although the collection of vintage jewelry and purses they also sell is impressive, I responded enthusiastically to a couple of Modernist, industrial lamps. The first (shown above) was a large standing lamp on tripod legs, in a chrome, UFO blue. The second, clamped tightly to the table’s edge (shown below), had in addition to an incandescent bulb, a small halo fluorescent light. This lamp’s unique feature was a sliding mechanism that adjusted the length of the arm, the way a trombone moves in and out, giving it its name, the Trombo lamp.

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(Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev, courtesy of NY Magazine)

6. Pastries from Choice Market
Well, who can’t resist food, especially delicious baked goods? The man in a white apron, operating the pastry bar at Choice Market, explained proudly but with a note of melancholy that they bake the second best Croissants in the city. Their cherry Danish, however, could lead one to believe that they baked the best; the pastry crust was so fluffy-buttery, one would think it was baked by magical elves in Paris. And the cherries, still clumpy and whole, provided a fresh tartness to the treat.

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7.  Lenticular Art from Alphaville Toys
If you enjoy 1950s advertising and outer space graphics, Alphaville is the vendor for you. They had a fine collection of space, cinema, and other themed toys and memorabilia harking back to the 50s and beyond. But the most special were their lenticular items – those holographic images that create an illusion of 3D when moved back and forth. There was also a Kennedy Space Shuttle ruler with shifting images of rockets in different stages of flight.

8.  Music and Books from Chris
A vendor on the upper floor named Chris sold books and music. After sifting through a pile of paperbacks, I found two gems. First, a hard-cover of the art of Giorgio De Chirico, the “metaphysical painter” who made dark, surrealist paintings of objects staged in urban settings devoid of people and back dropped by apocalyptic skies. The second was the Rolling Stones’ psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, an experimental record featuring orchestration and African beats. The artwork for the album alone justifies purchasing it. The Stones sit costumed in wizard and fairytale wear in a fantastically decorated landscape, which is framed in a blue and white marbleized pattern. The De Chirico landscapes and the Stones cover art make a suitable pair.

9.  Hand-crafted Accessories from Autumn, The Flower Child Next Door
The Flower Child Next Door features hand-crafted accessories. The aesthetic is hippie, bohemian, dainty. Autumn, designer and artist, started making the pieces by hand when she was twelve. One eye-catching piece was a decorative belt made with vintage ribbons and lace, created by Autumn between the ages of twelve and sixteen (she is now much older). Her stand was a visual maze of delicate details and textures affixed to earrings, bracelets, headbands, and more.

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10.  Vintage NYC Maps and Postcards
When asked how he acquired his collection of ephemera—postcards that filled boxes in stacks below him and maps that hung loosely above his head – Lon Black explained that since a kid, he always had a fascination with printed matter. There were dozens of maps printed in nostalgic blue and greens, but my favorite was a brochure of Pullman cars printed for the 1939 World’s Fair with exceptional graphics. Look at that cover! (Check out Lon’s blog of bad postcards, here, recently tweeted by Pee Wee Herman).

What are your favorite vendors or great finds when you visit the Flea?


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October 25, 2014

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