SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn — After spending the day shopping at small businesses in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, one thing is clear: small business owners take immense pride in the quality of their products.
“People really want unique things, so I think people do come here for that,” said Vivian Dos Santos, who carefully chooses each item she sells. Dos Santos imports fine children’s clothing from around the world. She is one of over 100 local vendors who crowd the floor at Brooklyn Flea Market, offering a diverse crop of curated and hand-made items.
After scouring big box stores for deals on Black Friday, consumers are encouraged to shop small on Saturday. Last year, Americans spent an estimated $14.3 billion dollars at mom-and-pop shops on Small Business Saturday.
You won’t want to overlook the bargains being offered. On 5th Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn small businesses are giving away food for free. Industry City industrial complex is sponsoring the first 50 purchases made at each participating small business.
At Sweet Dynasty Ice Cream, owner Song Lee says quality is king. Just one bad taste can lead to a bad reputation among customers, she said.
“Very easy to turn them away. Try to keep customer come back over and over,” said Lee.
Each customer can make a difference. Anne Marie Shoemaker says she was recently able to transform her part-time hobby into a full-time job. She hand-makes knitted goods and sells them at the Brooklyn Flea Market. It takes her four hours to knit a single hat.
“I think hand-made things are very special,” she said, “and I want people to see that. You know, I want them to touch it and see that there is really a difference about it.”
Another vendor at the market creates solid-wood furniture and houseware from fallen trees or decaying building beams. Robert Rising said that after Superstorm Sandy, he was able to mill scrapped wood into masterpieces.
“We like to look at it as something that’s valuable that’s being overlooked,” he said, “we add the value to it.