Monday, December 23, 2019

Chelsea Flea Market


The Chelsea Flea Market on 25th Street between 6th and Broadway has been in business since 1976. Now we hear it is coming to an end.

I went by one evening a few weeks ago and heard the rumor that the lease is up and the owners aren't renewing. Now a couple of tipsters confirm: Next weekend, December 28 and 29, will be the last for this popular and long-running flea.

Paul Jeromack writes, "There is a possibility it will get a reprieve," hoping someone might take it over from the current managers, Alan and Helene Boss -- a couple that the Post has said "rules city flea markets with an iron fist." However, he adds, "the church next door," which owns the parking lot "does not want to renew the lease."

That church is St. Sava Serbian Orthodox, burned down in a massive blaze in 2016. Around that time, there was also news of an 850-foot commercial tower going up on the flea's parking lot.

It doesn't look good.

Jeromack notes, "Some of my vendor friends told me if need be, they would migrate to the Columbus Avenue schoolyard market on 77th Street," but this may not be the solution for all the vendors.

"There are guys who are rag-pickers with piles of old clothes and pots and pans, who I am sure would not be approved for the uptown space. Where are they going to go?"

This is sad news for flea market fans. We already lost the great Antiques Garage in 2014 when their building was demolished for a luxury hotel tower. Not to mention the little Chelsea flea on 17th and 6th, shuttered in 2009.

Every day, in every way, we're living in a more and more overpriced, hollow, and disposable city.

photo via Joseph Burns Instagram


Robert said...

I go to this flea every Saturday. I'm going to miss it dearly. Please someone, let me know where the vendors are going to another flea market in the city??? Please tell me where else I can go to find flea market items? Where is Joe Burns going to go ?

mike westman said...

I started selling in NYC at 26th street in 1977, I set up there in Chelsea until 2018 and am now only doing shows in New England. I could never duplicate the people and atmosphere in the markets down in Chelsea......good kind people...interested and interesting. I learned more about antiques and art than I could have in 500 years working in the provinces. It is a shame that the Serbian church will not renew the lease...and the Bosses are retiring (Allan is in his 80's). It has been a diverse and fascinating group of people that populated and patronized the markets here. It saw the days of the NY scene with Warhol and the 2 pm sunday showtime and the evolution of the business from the stuffy auction houses up town to a whole myriad land of objects and people in Chelsea. Good bye and wonderful cannot ever be duplicated.....RIP 26th street.....the Garage...and 25th street. Thanks

I hate New Things said...

It was only a matter of time. I am surprised it lasted this long, but the area and the fact that flea markets in NYC are a dying breed. While it is sad to lose this one, the management leaves a lot to be desired. I have seen first hand the iron-fisted tactics and it was not pretty. There are some good vendors and not so good vendors. The dollar entrance fee was also ridiculous when on cold days or rainy days with barely 5 vendors, you still had to cough up. I picked up some great things over the years and it was the last kid on the block so to speak. First we lost the huge sixth Avenue fleas, then the garage, and now this one. Another reason why New York is getting lame by the minute.

rkny said...

Sad news indeed. Let’s also take a moment to remember the OG flea market, at 26th and 6th, which was there for decades before it closed in 2005.

Brian said...

I don't know the names and exact places of all the open air weekend flea markets dotting 6th Avenue between 22nd Street and 30th Street in the late 90's but there were several. Anywhere you see a very tall fairly recently constructed rental building on either side of 6th Ave, there was a flea market. And there was good stuff being sold. And there were very few Starbucks in the city. And almost nobody had a cell phone. And the Flower District was in full swing.

Madtabolism said...

Just another sign that the apocalypse is near :(.......

niicholas said...

Ah, really sad to hear. My dad was a dealer at the 26th and 6th market for most of my childhood in the 80s and early 90s, and also at this lot in it's early days, and the 25th street lot, and the garage when it first started. I spent almost every Sunday as a kid at these markets - setting up, minding the booth, buying coffees, chatting with the collectors. Everyone had a thing - the guy who bought Boy Scout stuff, the woman who wanted red cut glass. The emigre who bought instruments. The auction catalog guy, the guy who bought pocket knives, the older gal with the cowboy hat that smoked cigars. Andy Warhol bought stuff from my dad, and I delivered stuff to an old lady who lived in the Hotel Chelsea in a room full of stuffed birds. Wouldn't trade that childhood for anything.

Unknown said...

In most European cities like Paris and London, flea markets are zoned and protected for in, some cases a century or more,but it is no news that greed rules our city and diminishes what makes a city interesting and not the cookie cutter, suburban mall it is becoming....The Chelsea flea market area that grew up when it was an undesirable low rent area fell victim to gentrification. As others pointed out, and as a vendor myself, one met a slew of fascinating people, rabid collectors,artists,interior decorators, well known fashion designers...Bette Midler, Katherine DeNeuve, Kevin Klein, among the few I remember, and lots of Europeans...i recall an Italian dealer who came monthly to buy only Japanese 30's dishes.I worked in the art world in the 60's when SOHO was for artists living illegally in unheated but spacious lofts and the same thing happened . artists were replaced by dealers, then collectors and then the moneyed class. Alas, we needed a high powered champion a la "Jackie" who helped establish the Landmark Preservation laws to save our beloved Fleas!
Marcia Bennett-Bernier