If your search for products and produce generally leads you down a path strewn with antique armoires and heirloom tomatoes, then the city’s abundant markets—greenmarkets, flea markets, greenfleas, greensleeves!—are the places to peruse. While dumpster-diving for desks and dressers and tending to window-box herb gardens have their charm, there’s nothing like the hunt and peck of the island’s outdoor (and indoor) commodities exchanges.
The anchor of the Manhattan market scene, ANNEX ANTIQUES FAIR AND FLEA MARKET (Sixth Avenue between 24th and 26th streets, 212-243-5343, Saturday and Sunday, sunrise to sunset) houses hundreds of tables of tchotchkes and treasures of every ilk and condition. A suburban bumpkin would salivate buckets at the mere mention of a Manhattan garage sale (two-car small-town garage? ha!). THE GARAGE (112 West 25th Street, 212-243-5343, Saturday and Sunday, sunrise to sunset) comes close, with multiple floors of antiques. And heating to boot!
From the unnamed MARKET AT THE CORNER OF WOOSTER AND SPRING STREETS (open daily) to NOHO MARKET (Broadway and West 4th Street, open daily), other downtown options abound (although they tend to lean more toward the bong/trucker hat/T-shirt/bootleg CD chozzerai that used to be the territory of the wretched and ubiquitous “street fair”).
Off the island, the Park Slope perennial P.S. 321 FLEA MARKET (Seventh Avenue between 1st and 2nd streets, Brooklyn, 917-371-0005, Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) is held on a school playground, and Ozone Park’s AQUEDUCT RACE TRACK FLEA MARKET (Rockaway Boulevard and 108th Street, Queens, 516-222-1530, aqueductfleamkt.com, May through December, Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)—the largest in the city!—lines the Aqueduct Race Track’s parking lot aisles with thousands of salesmen hawking their wares.
All this rummaging making your tummy rumble? A quick stroll through the GREENFLEA MARKET (West 77th Street and Columbus Avenue, 212-721-0900, Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) mixes the best of both worlds—shopping and sustenance—hurrah! The ESSEX STREET MARKET (120 Essex Street, 212-312-3603, essexstreetmarket.com, Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) combines the staples of the neighborhood’s pushcart past—the butcher, the fishmonger, the baker, the fruit-and-vegetable guy—with others from currently thriving neighborhood communities: a Chinese food counter, a Latino spice shop, Schapiro’s winery, an art gallery, and a thrift-y houseware area.
Another community market(ing) venture is the splendid LOWER EAST SIDE GIRLS CLUB FARMERS’ MARKET AND FESTIVAL CENTER (Avenue D between 7th and 8th streets, 212-982-1633, girlsclub.org, Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., June to October), a full-fledged produce paradise with some proceeds going toward construction of a permanent home—on the market site—for cultural, athletic, career, and life-skills learning for neighborhood girls ages 8 through 18.
No trip to markets in this city could possibly be complete without a stop at the UNION SQUARE GREENMARKET (East 17th Street and Union Square West, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday), the largest member of the Council on the Environment of New York City’s official farmers’ market program (cenyc.org). The council controls 42 markets in 31 locations scattered throughout the five boroughs; many are open year-round. A stroll through Union Square can yield the finest and freshest in vegetables, fruits, herbs, baked goods, dairy, meat, fish, and houseplants—all grown, sown, slaughtered, slathered, and pruned by regional growers.
Tired yet? If not, run to GRAND ARMY PLAZA (northwest entrance to Prospect Park, Brooklyn, Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) for gorgonzola! Run to TOMPKINS SQUARE (East 7th Street and Avenue A, Sunday) for tarragon! To POE PARK (Grand Concourse and 192nd Street, Bronx, July to November, Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) for petunias! To JACKSON HEIGHTS—TRAVERS PARK (34th Avenue between 77th and 78th streets, Queens, May to November, Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.) for juniper berries!
And then run home for lunch!