#BrooklynFlea and #Smorgasburg: Thoughts and Suggestions


Last Saturday Marjorie (who is my girlfriend, though that is not her real name) and I decided to check out the inaugural weekend of the waterfront Brooklyn Flea/Smorgasburg in Williamsburg. In reality, these are two completely indistinguishable entities as far as I’m concerned…they share the same event space, happen at the same time, etc etc. It’s really just the Brooklyn Flea with lots of delicious things to grub on.

So Saturday turned out to be a super nice day…it was warm, almost hot at times, and with the exception of a few moments of rain, the sun was out all afternoon. I knew going into this that it would probably be fairly crowded; and it was.

The whole thing turned out to be a complete shitshow, at least in my view. This Williamsburg location is pretty fantastic; it’s right on the water, amazing views of the city, and there’s some ample green space as well. But the vendors at the Flea could definitely use a lesson in geometry. The amount of room for them is huge, maybe close to one and a half football fields. Despite this obscene volume of space, all the vendors set up one right next to the other, cramping the Flea into a corner and leaving close to 50% of the lot unused.

Aerial view of the waterfront green space; the main area for the Flea is to the right, out of frame. (w-architecture.com)

As a result, lines and crowds were absolutely out of control. I understand that this is part of living in New York; really, I do, and I don’t have a problem with it. But this was so unorganized, and such an absolute cluterf*** that it really wasn’t even fun to be there. It turned out to be like going to an amusement park on a holiday weekend in the summer; just a sweaty waste of time. Massive lines snaked through the whole thing, and it was so jammed up you couldn’t really even stop to look at anything people were selling. Unless you wanted a pickle on a stick from Rick’s or McClure’s, the wait for food was ridiculous.

Damn you, Cemita's! I wanted this thing! (facebook.com/pages/cemitas)

After waiting in-line at Cemita’s, getting very near-to the front and then hearing they weren’t serving food anymore (no idea why, it was 2:00 PM), Marjorie and I split up; she went to Milk Truck Grilled Cheese, and I queued up for some AsiaDog. Almost immediately, I came to a realization; there was no reason for us to wait in a long line to stand and eat hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches when there are an incredible number of delicious, cheap, restaurants in Williamsburg. On the way to the Flea we passed a number of establishments advertising their brunch deals (the most notable of which was $15 for all you can drink [draught beer and Bloody Mary] with brunch entree at The Lovin’ Cup), so I felt like we were making a bad call.

Some porno from those depraved dairy-fiends at Milk Truck (Eater photo pool via flickr.com)

I got out of line, walked over to Marj, and mentioned this to her; she agreed, we left, and about twenty minutes later it was chow time at egg. The food was very home-y (in a good way), we got to sit down and have a beer, and then we moved on to d.b.a. and eventually back to Manhattan.

I hope that in the coming weekends the Flea works out these kinks and finds a way to make traffic flow more efficient. It never seemed to have been a problem when the Flea was in Fort Greene, and the space there was quite a bit smaller than the one in Williamsburg. The Williamsburg location really is awesome (much better than Fort Greene, or even under the Manhattan bridge in DUMBO), so I hope they can turn this into something really great; not to say that the Flea as a (whole) concept isn’t already spectacular, but like I said, Pythagorus would have been appalled by what he saw.