Flatbush Caton Market hosts market-wide sale

Flatbush Caton Market on Clarendon Road in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Kate Nielsen

The Flatbush Caton Market is hosting market-wide sale in preparation for its move to new permanent Caton Flats location.

Now through May 29, Brooklyn residents and visitors alike can shop more than 30 Caribbean vendors at Flatbush Caton Market’s moving sale.

Vendors will offer select fashion, home goods, accessories, foods, spices, and much more at $20 or less.

The sale takes place Wednesday to Saturday, through May 29, from 10:00 am. to 8:00 pm.

“Flatbush Caton Market’s liquidation sale is a unique opportunity to support more than 30 Caribbean small businesses who are looking to sell their current selection of inventory to offer customers new and exciting products when the new market location opens later this year,” Lisa Thompson, director of Flatbush Caton Market, told Caribbean Life on Monday.

“We are thrilled to welcome visitors from across the New York region to this global celebration of cultural offerings in favor of our diverse vendor base.”

Thompson said the Flatbush Caton Market, located in Flatbush, Brooklyn, was established in 2000 to provide an indoor home to 40-plus Caribbean street vendors.

Market vendors offer a range of goods and services, including Caribbean fashion, music, dry foods and personal care products.

In 2015, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) selected BRP Companies and Urbane Development to purchase, redevelop and manage the market, including new commercial, residential and community uses, and a permanent home for the FCM.

Urbane Development is managing the redevelopment of the FCM, as well as the addition of 5000-plus square feet of business incubation infrastructure that will include a commercial kitchen, textile and cosmetic fabrication spaces, and digital technology lab.

In October 2020, the Flatbush Caton Market team raised direct cash assistance funds, through the Flatbush Caton Micro Entrepreneur Relief Fund, to aid Caribbean vendors in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) economic shut-down.

“The funds raised through the campaign were intended to meet whatever urgent needs had emerged for vendors as a result of COVID-19 hardship and the forced market interruption,” said the team in a statement.

“Flatbush Caton Market entrepreneurs know best what they need,” it added. “So, the goal was to support them in meeting those immediate needs and preparing them to be stable in the long term.”

The campaign was launched in June 2020 and remained active for three months, receiving donations from 145 unique donors in raising a total of $46,691.30 for market vendors.

“FCM vendors are now our community elders, enriching Brooklyn with the diverse cultures of the Caribbean Diaspora through their micro businesses,” said the team, referring to the Flatbush Caton Market.

“Like too many high-barrier entrepreneurs, these mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers operate at the edge of the formal economy,” it added. “They lack the banking relationships or operational capacity needed to access government responses to the COVID-19 economic crisis, including the PPP and EIDL programs.

“Meanwhile, the health epidemic is not over,” FCM added. “As older adults, FCM vendors face acute risks from COVID-19. The virus has claimed too many in our community, and the disparate impact on Black and Brown residents means that FCM vendors face a steeper climb to recovery.”

The Flatbush Cation Market said delivering assistance in cash form is imperative, “as vendors are at various points on the path to fully formalized operations.”

“Twenty years ago, former Councilwoman Dr. Una Clarke recognized the intrinsic value created by Flatbush’s Caribbean street vendors and established a formal indoor market where ambition could be met with dedicated support,” said the team.

“Today, Flatbush Caton Market vendors are our elders, providing the goods we need and the comfort we seek,” it added. “We come to shop, but we also come to keep traditions alive.

“We come to commune in Kreyol and Patois and Spanish while shopping for Labor Day,” it continued. “We come to find a familiarity that transports us to the markets of the islands. We come to celebrate the Caribbean through literature, music and food.”

FCM said this is a critical moment in its experiment, stating that vendors are operating from a temporary location at 2184 Clarendon Ave. in Flatbush, while a new market building is constructed at the corner of Flatbush and Caton.

The forthcoming Caton Flats will include a state-of-the-art business incubator, “designed to build a strong Black and Brown entrepreneurship ecosystem and economic hub for all of Brooklyn,” the Flatbush Caton Market said.

It said the renovated Flatbush Caton Market will preserve the very micro businesses that started it all two decades ago.

“This hybrid approach is an opportunity to fulfill the promise of FCM and expand its mandate to empower micro-entrepreneurs throughout the NYC region and the Caribbean Diaspora writ large,” it said. “The Caton Flats development and redevelopment of FCM models a new kind of economic development – led by a team of Black and Brown people – creating a response to the gentrification uprooting Black and Brown communities.”

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