Alt´ Retail (alt as in alternative) mecca Artists & Fleas was opened by entrepreneurs Amy Abrams and Ronen Glimer in 2003. Set up in old warehouse in Brooklyns Williamsburg, the concept provides a weekly marketplace for aspiring artists and designers.
A stroll round the shop lets you come close to the makers, as they present themselves along with their creations. The passion and philosophy fuelling the project is stated as follows on the website:
We love cool stuff. We love to shop. We love the thrill of discovery. And we especially love discovering new things in out-of-the-way places where we can meet the people behind the creations. Artists & Fleas was a way to bring all the things we loved together to a community that was creative and dynamic but lacked a place to come together.
Besides providing lots of inspiration to its weekend visitors, Artists & Fleas also provides great inspiration for creative makers, by addressing indie vendors with business savvy tips on merchandising and more. Abrams and Glimer are modern patrons of the crafted arts and small biz creative commerce (Abrams also having setting up network InGoodCompany). The Artists & Fleas website features a blog with great analysis of trends and the alt retail market,
While the future of markets and pop-up shops is still unwritten, one thing seems to be clear: there is a new phase of indie entrepreneur that is more buttoned up, super street smart and savvy in the art of storytelling their business as they work the food and flea and artisan scene across the City. Has the creative class become the new creative commerce class?
Clearly, the dream of making stuff and making it are increasingly interwoven. In these socialized times, putting a face to a product is so potent. Adding a personal story to the mix further spices things up. Meeting the maker live is evidently a big bonus so gathering a bunch of makers in one spot equals jackpot.
These above mentioned elements combined are the driving force behind the success of a platform like Artists & Fleas, and of online indie shop platforms like Etsy.com. The HBO hit How to Make it in America taps into a corner of this make-stuff-make-it realm. Its a wonderful thing – this new take on the American Dream. Call the movement what you wish: Alt retail, People-2-People, Peer-2-Peer Retail, Consumer-2-Consumer. My bet is that the small-scale maker retail rally is only beginning, both in the physical and the digital retail sphere… Makers of the world… Unite!
See it for yourself:
When: Between 10am and 7pm on Saturdays and Sundays.