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Brooklyn Flea. Quirky, inclusive, and full of unclaimed treasures—that's Brooklyn in a nutshell, and it also aptly describes the Brooklyn Flea. This little market that could is now one of Brooklyn's most popular shopping attractions, luring locals and bargain hunters from afar with vintage finds, hip crafts, and crazy-delicious eats.
The Flea is a hybrid of traditional flea market, garage sale, and crafts fair, a tumble of the expensive, the cheap, and the strange. Some vendors hawk high-end items like antique doors refashioned into tables, rescued fixtures from prewar houses, or midcentury lamps identical to those in Mad Men. The most "Brooklyn-y" component is the local artisans, and buying their one-of-a-kind handmade wares gives shoppers the altruistic feeling of supporting arts and crafts, whether that's silk-screen T-shirts of giant squid, tongue-in-cheek charm bracelets with little daggers, or hand-stitched stuffed elephants. You'll also find a number of oddly specialized booths like the vendor who sells nothing but oil paintings of bicycles. Why not? Finally, there is plenty of bric-a-brac to sift through: great stuff that may not be practical (mink stoles, nonfunctional alarm clocks, Star Wars collectibles), but that makes for fun browsing.
When you've exhausted the shopping side of things, the Flea boasts some fantastic food options. You'll find mini cupcakes from Kumquat Cupcakery, juicy sandwiches from Porchetta, gooey grilled cheese from Milk Truck, organic ice cream from Blue Marble, family-farmed coffee from Crop to Cup, and all sorts of pickled produce from popular McClure's Pickles.
The Flea takes place in two locations every weekend from mid-March to late November: On Saturdays, in the parking lot of Bishop Laughlin Memorial High School, at 176 Lafayette Ave., between Clermont and Vanderbilt Ave., in Fort Greene. On Sundays, it's in East River State Park, at 90 Kent Ave., Williamsburg. Brooklyn, NY. www.brooklynflea.com. Free. Mid-March to late Nov., weekends 10–5. Subway: A, C to Lafayette Ave. for school location. L to Bedford Ave. for park location.
Smorgasburg. The ultimate eating extravaganza, Smorgasburg does for local and regional culinary startups what the Brooklyn Flea does for independent designers and craftspeople. From April through mid-November, rain or shine, 75-100 food vendors sell prepared and packaged treats like gourmet s'mores, savory jams and Asian-influenced hot dogs. Bring your appetite to the East River State Park (90 Kent Ave. at N. 7 St.) on Saturdays, and on Sundays to DUMBO's historic Tobacco Warehouse (30 Water St). Brooklyn, NY. www.smorgasburg.com. April–mid-Nov., weekends 11–6. Subway: Williamsburg location: L to Bedford Ave. DUMBO location: F to York St.; 2, 3 to Clark St.
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