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Holiday Markets Let Brooklyn Shoppers Skip the Mall

By Leslie Albrecht | December 13, 2012 7:33am

PARK SLOPE — As holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, several upcoming craft fairs and markets will let consumers skip the mall and stock up on unique gifts by local artisans.

Some boast DJs, food trucks and themed cocktails to make shopping as fun and painless as possible, and some support local causes.

Here's the lineup in the Park Slope and Gowanus area:

South Slope Holiday Craft Fair

This one-day fair on Dec. 15 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. helps raise money for P.S. 10, the school on Seventh and Prospect avenues.

Jonathan Sharp, a parent of three who helps organize the market, said he tries hard to select a wide variety of vendors so shoppers aren't inundated with just one type of artist. For example, only about 20 percent of the crafters are jewelry makers.

New vendors at the market this year include Chelsea Miller Knives, a Brooklyn-based knifesmith; What The Folk Art, which makes robots out of recycled materials; and the jewelry maker Saskia de Vries. Returning favorites include girls clothing maker Tiki and jewelry maker Lisa Medoff.

Sharp, who runs a kids T-shirt company, has sold his wares at area markets and says he draws on his personal experience to make the South Slope Holiday Craft Fair a success for both shoppers and vendors.

The school-based market will have kids activities such as face painting and free performances by New York Guitar Academy and Brooklyn Music Studio. Fifth graders from P.S. 10 will sell baked goods at Cafe 10, and a Kimchi Taco food truck will be on hand for hungry shoppers.

"It does raise money for the school, which is great, but it really is a celebration of our school community," Sharp said. "It is exciting for people to come and see the cafeteria transformed by the vendors."

Brooklyn Craft Central Annual Holiday Market

This market, now in its fifth year, features all handmade goods mostly by local designers, said founder Deb Klein. Demand for the market has grown so much that this year Klein added a second weekend. The market will take place Dec. 15-16 and Dec. 22-23 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Littlefield, the performance venue at 622 Degraw Street in Gowanus.

Klein says she carefully curates her list of vendors to make sure everyone at the market sells products that she personally admires and loves. The vendor lineup includes Light Touch, a custom lamp shade maker from upstate New York, and Volta Organics, a Philadelphia soap maker.

"It's really high quality and original and not necessarily seen all over town," Klein said, adding that she intentionally chooses a wide range of price points. "It's not a high-end market, and it's not a cheap one."

Shoppers can sip specialty cocktails like the Shopaholic (gin, lemon, simple syrup, grenadine) while they groove to tunes provided by record shop Norman's Sound & Vision, and snack on empanadas and pupusas. But Klein said the focus is on shopping.

"That's where my philosophy differs from other events in the city," Klein said. "I make shopping the absolute priority. It's not just a place to hang out."

Brooklyn Lyceum Holiday Marketplace

Brooklyn Lyceum, the one-time public bath house turned performance venue on Fourth Avenue and President Street, holds an annual holiday market that fully embraces the season. Shoppers can get photos with Santa Claus, and there will also be performances of "A Christmas Carol" and "Charlie Brown Christmas."

This year's market runs from Dec. 15-16, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Vendors include Greenlab Studio, which makes wall gardens from reclaimed wood, O Live Brooklyn, a maker of premium olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and Billy Wolf Fine K-9 Coatery, a seller of coats for dogs made out of vintage fabrics.

Housing Works Buy the Bag Power Hour

Housing Works, the AIDS charity that runs thrift shops and bookstores throughout the city, recently opened one of its Buy the Bag stores between the South Slope and Sunset Park, at 159 28th St. and Fourth Avenue.

This unique retail experience isn't a craft fair: it's a grab fair, where shoppers pay $25 a pop to walk into the store and fill a shopping bag with as much men's and women's clothing and accessories that they can stuff inside. Clothing is donated by individuals or by Housing Works' partners in the fashion industry, according to its website.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, the new Brooklyn location will host a "Power Hour," where shoppers can buy $5 tickets to shop before regular hours.

Gowanus Nite Market

This new market happens the second Saturday of each month from 7 p.m. to midnight. The December event has already passed, but shoppers who need to pick up very belated Christmas or Hanukkah presents can swing by the Jan. 12 event.

The market's venue is Film Biz Recycling, a massive warehouse at 540 President Street filled with discarded props from movie and TV sets. The space leaves plenty of room for food from vendors like Steve's Ice Cream and Mike n Willie's Food Truck, and the musical stylings of DJ Chela.

Merchants include hosiery purveyor Peek Brooklyn, and Design Hype, which makes stainless steel cuff bracelets embossed with subway maps.