Blog: The Brooklyn Flea Authors at Greenlight Bookstore
The Brooklyn Flea is arguably one of the greatest examples of a small business model in action. Since 2008 the outdoor market has been flexing it’s muscles throughout the borough providing its loyal customers with a unique atmosphere to shop for wares with fantastic value. But for a handful of the market’s vendors another story is transpiring altogether. Flea staples like the “Brooklyn Brew Shop,” “People’s Pops,” and “Twig Terrariums” each have gone on to expand outside of the Brooklyn Flea’s boundaries, attaining greater levels of exposure city-wide. With this new found exposure, the businesses have also gone on to write and release major label books and on Monday night, LocalBozo.com headed to the Greenlight Bookstore in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn to join these business owners in an interactive and entertaining discussion moderated by the Flea’s co-founder Eric Demby.
Demby opened this lively and funny chat by praising each of the businesses and their new found authors’ accumen, providing the audience with some concrete background about their connection to the Brooklyn Flea’s history itself. As a frequent patron of the Skylight One Hanson location, this was a great opportunity to see one of the faces behind the scenes. Demby spoke candidly about the importance of keeping the market pure and not allowing it to “jump the shark” by becoming some commercial landscape. In reality the Brooklyn Flea has become the catalyst for the outer borough’s leadership of culture throughout New York. Be it art, food, or brews- much of it was born at these weekend markets.
“People’s Pops” is a homegrown business, born between friends that has expanded beyond its Brooklyn walls with to a handful of popular destinations in Manhattan. The innovative frozen pop company has a prime spot along the Highline’s elevated walkway and smaller accompanying outlets selling their tasty cold product. Co-owner Nathalie Jordi was up next to speak about the importance dating back to their Brooklyn Flea beginnings and the work ethic that spawned from the competitive nature of selling there. Their first release- “People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop”- is a story about success in small business resulting from a strong work ethic and a grassroots style, word of mouth promotion. It’s amazing to think that people in the midwest might be concocting versions of our own “People’s Pops” on summer days.
Erica Shea and Stephen Valand of the “Brooklyn Brew Shop” continued along a similar page as the business partners were early members of the Brooklyn Flea family, cutting their teeth every weekend to get their brand recognized. They recalled their early experiences fondly, suggesting that the weekly flea market was better than any business school that they could have attended. Every week they would learn something new from other participating vendors, while adjusting thie business plan on the fly through trial and error. Between lifting huge sacks of grain up flights of stairs inside walk-up apartment buildings all the way to challenging the old guard of what ingredients can be in a beer, these two have made home-brewing accessible to all. Their book “Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book: 52 Seasonal Recipes for Small Batches” is massively popular, going through many cycles of reprints as it teaches people how to make creative ales from their home base.
Michelle Inciarrano and Katy Maslow of “Twig Terrariums” were all smiles at the Greenlight Bookstore discussion, as they are credited with having created the current market for artist terrariums. “Terrariums” are lush little landscapes within glass, which are visually stunning glass structures using plants and miniature scenes, from tiny hikers to gritty urban street snapshots. As a member of the arts crowd of the Brooklyn Flea, the pair has transformed this art-form by selling their terrariums all over town. Their new book release, “Tiny World Terrariums: A Step-By-Step Guide to Easily Contained Life” fulfilled a long desired aspiration for both women and since its release, national success has showered the Brooklyn ladies with requests from popular home decor magazines.
Greenlight’s event was an excellent way to pair the successful small business spawning from the “Flea” with the new found authors that have emerged from it. After the discussion concluded, a short Q&A session was run. One question in particular stood out- “With the success of your businesses and books will you continue to feature your business at the Brooklyn Flea each week?” And without a drop of hesitation, each purveyor responded with a resounding, yes. The Brooklyn Flea provided each of the three businesses with the a forum essential to their expansion and helped them to become renowned companies that they are today and they will always stay true to that.
- Jay Rubin