Artists & Fleas Market Brings New Artisan Life To SoHo
By Mercedes Vizcaino, Contributing Writer, May 16, 2017
Artists & Fleas shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. The expanding artisan marketplace, founded by husband and wife duo, Amy Abrams and Ronen Gilmer in 2003, opened their newest location on May 12 at the highly coveted 10,000 sq. ft. space on 568 Broadway, formerly housing the Armani Exchange.
ZEALnyc stopped by the opening launch and spoke with co-founder, Amy Abrams to gain insight on her business’s longevity, as well as what makes a good vendor and where she finds her inspiration. Abrams, wearing a sparkly silver jumpsuit, at first glance fits the part of a New York fashion “it” girl (rather, “it” woman) and life of the party, as she engages with vendors, her elementary school-aged daughters (they got the memo on mom’s sparkle theme), while obligingly taking pictures with guests. Yet, she’s more than the perceived social butterfly and savvy businesswoman; she’s an advocate for artisans first and foremost. When Abrams and her husband first started their business in an empty warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn almost 14 years ago, they fulfilled a need for themselves and other like-minded artists to sell their products. A community of crafters and builders, sharing their love of creating things; Abrams and Gilmer translated that love into a thriving marketplace with the help of emerging artists, indie designers, vintage collectors and anyone looking to showcase their craft.
Creating one-of-a-kind interesting pieces doesn’t automatically green-light membership as a seller to Artists & Fleas. According to Abrams, both she and Gilmer have turned down vendors many times because their product didn’t seem like it would sell or wouldn’t conform to Artists & Fleas’ mission. “We’re not in this business to just make money without properly vetting vendors. It’s a new process for some vendors. They know how to create beautiful artistry, but they are new to the business side of selling and it can be overwhelming for them.” To become a successful vendor, Artists & Fleas launched: Retail Boot Camp Program. For one full week, new merchants can test out their products in a real life retail setting. Artists & Fleas provides display fixtures, a register and other tools to get the vendor ready to take their brand to the next step and hopefully collaborate with the market on a longer-term commitment.
Let’s face it. Technology and e-commerce sites (Amazon, among many others) are gobbling up the fashion, home goods and electronics arena. Pretty much any products in retail, and historically successful brick & mortar businesses, are shuttering stores in record numbers around the country (Macy’s, Sears and Walmart, to name a few). Artists & Fleas restores hope for the little guy/gal. Rising entrepreneurs don’t have to solely rely on Etsy to sell their goods for a broad reach. They can attract consumers and fans alike on a one-on-one basis that leaves the customer with a unique personal shopping experience. Artists & Fleas has marketplaces in The Chelsea market in Manhattan, Downtown L.A., Venice Beach, CA and now SoHo. They also host events with non-profits and like-minded partners. For more information on Artists & Fleas and to check out their latest vendors, click here.
All photos courtesy of Artists & Fleas.