Small businesses offer niche products in the heart of shopping district to ring in the new year
A new Third Avenue Holiday Market, located on the bustling corner of 149th Street at The Hub, will be open through the new year, offering items from local street vendors and artists, including clothing, jewelry and items from the farmers market. Created by the Third Avenue Business Improvement District, the market is the first pop-up market in the Bronx.
“I love going to markets like this, rather than going to a big brand-name store like Walmart or Target,” said Melissa Georges, a 35-year-old from Mott Haven, who was doing her Christmas shopping. “There’s just something about walking around a market, with all the different tables and shops — it’s much more authentic, the products are more special than something you’d buy at Target.”
The market is a great place to shop, say organizers, but it is also aiming to help small Bronx businesses.
“We’re looking for a way to support small local vendors, artists, people who have a following, but they have no place to sell their products – they have no platform,” said Kate Evans, program manager for the BID and the director of the market. “One of the things we hope is to offer a place out of the elements where street vendors could have an option to set up their table inside. They’re not going to get arrested, get their stuff taken, and also they’re not standing out there in the snow or the heat.”
The market may also be a jumping-off point for a new business, Evans added. “That’s the hope, to help legitimize their brand or company.”
The BID’s executive director, Michael Brady, first spotted the 10,000-square- foot room when scouting for an event space. That’s when the idea of a holiday market was born. The market was created in just a few weeks and already there are 25 vendors. But because it was started so quickly, the BID decided to use a consignment option: the vendors themselves don’t come to the market each day to sell their products but instead contribute products and a BID employee manages the sales.
“The BID keeps 20 percent of the total consignment sales and the rest goes to the vendor. They get a good chunk of change for not being here,” Evans explained. “A lot of these people have full time jobs, or they’re working multiple jobs, and they can’t spare the time to actually man a store or a booth.”
Axium, who goes by one name, is a street vendor who sells anime comic books, key chains and posters that he’s collected, said the market has helped his business already. “It’s 24 degrees today. I would not go on the street and sell on a day like this, so this would not be happening today if it wasn’t for the Third Avenue Holiday Market,” he explained. “Also, because I come here everyday people have a reliable source. They know where I’ll be, at what time. It’s definitely helped my business. When I was selling outside there’d be some days I wouldn’t go out and sell, or some days I’d have to move around, now customers can count on me to be here, every single day, at this time.”
Along with Pokemon and superhero collectibles, there are tables lined with phone cases, jewelry, makeup, hats, sunglasses, purses, clothing, shoes and toys. Brand-name clothing selling for $20 fills rolling racks. “You can come in and get actual nice designer stuff for cheap,” said Evans. “That was one of the things that started to really bring foot traffic in, because people would see racks of clothes, and people want to look through them. It’s an attraction.”
Products from the South Bronx farmers market, including honey, maple syrup and dressing, are for sale. Homemade cookies, brownies, coffee and hot chocolate are also available. There’s even a little booth where kids can write letters to Santa Claus. Excited families walked down the aisles, squealing at the low prices. “Can I get this?” a young girl asked her mother, holding up a furry pink purse. Kids giggled as they stood around the Santa Claus letter writing table as they fought for a spot to write what they wanted for Christmas while their parents waited on line to purchase handmade jewelry.
The market has new vendors signing up daily. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day until Jan. 6 at 2817 Third Ave.