Published: January 7, 2020
NEW YORK CITY — In a 2014 interview with Antiques and The Arts Weekly, veteran flea market manager Alan Boss, who has seen many markets come and go and noting then the recent closing of his indoor market, The Garage, due to real estate development, said that his Chelsea Flea would be the last holdout from the golden age of the urban emporiums. “This is Chelsea’s last stand,” he said.
That surrender came on December 29, as the city’s largest, and for some, best, flea market marked its final day, Boss unable to renew the lease from the limited liability company that owns it, according to a report in The New York Post.
Boss started his first flea on a corner lot in Chelsea in 1976, with 11 dealers. Nearly four decades later he had grown the business into two weekly markets — Chelsea Flea and Hells Kitchen Flea Market — offering hundreds of dealers.
Chelsea vendors held forth in a nondescript parking lot on West 25th Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway, a veritable bazaar where they offered a mélange of antiques and vintage goods: from camera equipment, paintings and empty frames to jewelry, smalls, clothing, photographs, records and a smattering of furniture.
Real estate is the culprit for the demise of urban flea markets, abetted by eBay and other online vendues. Even as Chelsea was waxing strong so was the constantly changing face of New York City, and Boss told Antiques and The Arts Weekly that there were no guarantees. “When a building goes up [here], we will be done,” he said.
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