8 Successful Art-ternative Entrepreneurs

8 Successful Art-ternative Entrepreneurs

Emily Badger | Good

Name: Eric Demby Project: The Brooklyn Flea Years at it: Two and a half

Eric Demby has always been the kind of guy who did a lot of different things, but he did not particularly envision that he would end up the ringleader of a flea market. And yet two and a half years ago, Demby co-founded the Brooklyn Flea, which quickly became New York’s best outdoor emporium of antique saucepans, bicycle paintings, handmade jewelry, and food-truck food. “It’s not like I was a junior flea-market operator,” he says, “and then I graduated to running my own flea market.”

Demby and Jonathan Butler held the first Flea in April, 2008, filling a void created by the disappearance of the city’s best markets due to physical encroachment by real-estate development and virtual encroachment by the internet. Today, they hold a 150-vendor, one-acre outdoor market on Saturdays, and an indoor Sunday market in the historic Williamsburgh Savings Bank.

Demby, 38, came to the experiment from gigs in music journalism, event production, and speechwriting—all of which acquainted him with the community that would help form the city’s best flea market. “In a way, it’s like I had been gearing up for this the first 18 years that I lived in the city,” he says.

The Brooklyn Flea has along the way become a community meet-up for a neighborhood with no obvious center. “Brooklyn doesn’t really have a downtown, it doesn’t have a central plaza,” Demby says. “Some cities have natural places where people just sort of go.” And some cities have people who just know how to create them.

Art by Jeffery Middleton

Next: No. 2: A Messy Workspace →

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