Last October I woke up around 5am on a Saturday morning and trekked over to Fort Greene to take behind the scenes photos of The Brooklyn Flea. So when I heard about the Smorgasburg I thought I should do the same thing. It’s a great way to meet most of the vendors before the crowd arrives. This time I decided it would be a great idea to ask Eric Demby, cofounder of The Brooklyn Flea, few questions.
Q. How did the idea for Smorgasburg came about?
A. Few reasons. One is that the regular Fleas’ food sections have become full every week with regular/loyal vendors, and we were getting so many quality applicants that we didn’t want to turn them away. Also, the developer who we rent the new W’burg Sunday location from asked us from the beginning (Fall 2010 when we first discussed the space with them) to activate the space more than once a week. We couldn’t do the same Flea there since we’re in Fort Greene on Saturdays, and frankly we came up with a lot of concepts that didn’t have the capacity to fill up a 40K+sf lot besides food.
Q. What do you hope to achieve with Smorgasburg?
A. In addition to making wonderful, fresh, interesting, affordable food accessible to more New Yorkers (and visitors)—which is why we chose a fun rather than fancy name—our intention with Smorgasburg is to integrate upstate small farmers, New York City food-makers, chefs, social entrepreneurs, shoppers, and families in a large outdoor retail market, while spreading the sea change in food consciousness by making fresh, affordable food and ideas about eating and sourcing more accessible to a broad and diverse audience.
Q. Seems like with the success of Liddabit Sweets, ScratchBread and few other vendors, the Brooklyn Flea has sort of became the place for up and coming artisans to show off their products. Do you feel the same way?
A. Of course. I also think the success of small vendors at the Flea has contributed to the market’s success as a whole: shoppers feel like they contribute to the vendors’ growth by supporting them each week, which in turn has become a hallmark of the Flea in general in the sense that the lines of community between sellers and buyers are often blurred.
Q. Can you tell me couple things you’re looking for in new vendors?
A. As a baseline, quality product, professionalism, some level of track record/experience, and a vision of where they want their business to go. But lately the biggest obstacle to overcome is applying with a product or concept that isn’t already covered by an existing vendor. We have so much meat, sweets, and bready stuff in the market that it’s hard not to step on someone’s toes. And that’s another hallmark of the Flea: the reciprocal loyalty we have with vendors, who stick with us just as we stand by and protect them. It’s basically like the mafia.
Check out the rest of the photos in the slideshow.