Seventh Avenue @ 17th Street
Saturday and Sunday 5 am "until the last one leaves the lot."
Nearby: 17th Street is home to several consignment stores
"If the Archdioces kicked us out, I'd march right down and talk to the Cardinal about it."
So says dealer Pat Sweeney ("Ask Sweeney, tell it to Sweeney, sell it to Sweeney"). The Chelsea Antique & Collectible Flea Market is standing its ground against the vanishing of flea markets around the city by clinging to life in a small parking lot at Seventh Avenue and 17th Street. Three years old, and staffed by dealers displaced from the Eighth Avenue market, Sweeney is adamant that they're not going anywhere soon. The parking lot is owned by its neighbor across the street, the New York Foundling Hospital, a Catholic institution. The Mary Help of Christians sold out the Avenue B flea, but I guess the Sisters of Charity aren't tempted. Yet.
There's something interesting about this market. Maybe it's the small size, everyone elbowing each other. Maybe it's the fact that most of the goods avoid the crafts plague infecting larger markets, and you can find something at least unusual. Maybe it's the fixed look in the eye of a young hipster as he studies an artifact from, ahem, the eighties.
Or maybe it's the fact that so many of the dealers seem to be having fun. This is their social scene. "People are here on Christmas Day, if the market falls on it," Sweeney said. He pointed out a vendor who has only missed one day all this year. Hopefully that man, and this flea market, will be around for a while.