Nick Thomas, Flea Market Vendor
by Daniel Bush
Apr 12, 2011 | 4373 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The recently opened Downtown Flea Market at 74 Hanson Place has several things going for it: the outdoor space is around the corner from the Atlantic Terminal Mall, a busy transit hub and the future home of the New Jersey Nets.

It’s also next to Brooklyn Flea, a larger, well-established bazaar that rents space at the Williamsburg Savings Bank building. (The market runs out of Bishop Laughlin High School’s playground - and now a satellite Williamsburg location - during its summer season.)

To stay competitive, the Downtown Flea is offering cheaper prices on quality goods from vendors like Nick Thomas, who runs an arts and fashion boutique.

His business sells colorful leather bags designed by his cousin, hats made by the designer Yuko Ogawa, and a variety of Caribbean-themed art and jewelry.

“We’re self-taught,” said Thomas, who moved from Jamaica to Brooklyn when he was seven and spent years learning to sew and design bags alongside his cousin.

The pair had a store on DeKalb Avenue that closed ten years ago.

Since then, they’ve sold their stuff at area flea markets. When real estate broker Marat Shvartsman opened the Downtown Flea in March, Thomas said he couldn’t resist a steady market gig in a bustling neighborhood.

The market has taken over a gravel-lined lot opposite the Shirley A. Chisholm State Office Building. It has space for up to 50 small vendors, who pay less in stall fees than those who rent space from Brooklyn Flea.

Thomas said so far the gamble is paying off.

“It’s a really great neighborhood,” he said. “There’s a lot of traffic.”

In the summer business will pick up, he said. And like other area merchants, Thomas is banking on the Barclays Center. The basketball arena being built down the block at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues will draw up to 19,000 fans for games and concerts.

“The basketball arena is going to bring a lot of people,” he said.

Business from Nets fans could even help finance another storefront for Thomas and his cousin. “Our goal is to see if we can get another location,” he said.

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