Guest Author - Karen Joyce Williams
Spend an afternoon away from the bustle of Manhattan to meander at your own pace through the weekly throng of antique and crafts bargain hunters in one of Brooklyn's oldest and most well-preserved Brownstone districts, Fort Greene. Just blocks from Prospect Park, the borough's last primeval forest, and surrounded by a growing number of upscale restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and renovated, easily-accessed subway stops, is Brownstoner's Brooklyn Flea.
Started in 2008, Le Flea, as it is affectionately called by its creators Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler, hums with over 200 antique dealers, vintage clothing merchants, jewelry designers and chefs hawking their wares. In a cement city schoolyard in the middle of thickly tree-lined streets and bustling with as many as 25,000 people cheerily hunting, haggling and eating varieties of distinctly artisanal New York street food, Le Flea boasts treasures for antique furniture collectors, chocolate and cheese hounds and visitors who just want an afternoon to explore at their own pace.
For a break in the scenery, gaze across Lafayette Avenue at the Masonic Temple with its multi-colored enamel and metal facade. Only two others like it in the world, it was built in 1907 and laid out to mirror King Solomon's Temple in Egypt and is considered one of the most extraordinary architectural structures in the United States. Self-guided tours are available for the asking.
The Brooklyn Flea has been featured in The New York Times, Time Out, and a bevy of other magazines, websites and newspapers. In 2009 it was chosen as one of the three best markets in the world (yes, the world) by a Japanese cable show. On any Saturday, Martha Stewart, Ted What's-his-name from Queer Eye and other bargain-hunting celebs can be seen on the prowl. The flea maintains a website and a blog where flea visitors get to comment on their purchases, make suggestions for improvements and find out what special attraction is on tap for the upcoming week.
Be entertained by the traveling blues bands that may appear toward the end of the day, come to sample the fresh organic soups or find the perfect antique dining table. The vendors are friendly; many are from out of state in Brooklyn just for the flea market. Held outdoors each Saturday from April until the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the Brooklyn Flea is a delightful, easy to reach, one day outing for the whole family. Bring the strollers and sit on the steps of Bishop Loughlin High School and have lunch and listen while DJs spin collectible vinyl. Test drive a retro bicycle and bring home a Mid-Century Sofa(delivered by Flea movers).
Le Flea is a small town special event with an international roster of vendors and visitors. Well worth the visit.
Why? Because it's too late to get a flight to Marrakesh by this Saturday.