Years ago, I would sometimes walk down Flatbush Avenue on weekend afternoons, passing but never shopping at the Flatbush Caton Market, an indoor sort of mix of mall and flea market where more than 30 small vendors hawked clothes, cosmetics, spices, jewelry, Bob Marley paraphernalia and other items—a Caribbean spin on Bath Beach’s long-gone Caesar’s Bay Bazaar, which I vaguely remember from my childhood as a strange, exciting, stuck-together sort of place. (It became a big-box store. Such is the story of New York City.)
I wouldn’t consider myself a member of the Flatbush community and thus wouldn’t consider the fact that I never went there to be indicative of a larger trend, but apparently it wasn’t just me: “Business is dead,” one vendor told the Daily News, and the city is now looking for a developer to redesign the site, the paper reports.
This doesn’t mean they want to kick out the vendors, for whom the space was designed 10 years ago as a way to get them off the streets. “Whatever they do, the market has to be a part of it,” a former local councilmember told the tabloid. But the site could also be built up and include a Caribbean cultural center, affordable housing, and/or something else; the request for proposals is vague.
While the vendors have had trouble making their $500 monthly fee, the location is likely not the problem. “This is a very busy area,” one News commenter writes. “However, the merchants are selling outdated stuff and they are not marketing themselves or advertising.” In addition to whatever else is developed at the site, a little outreach might go a long way.
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