Shop Local at a New York Flea Market or Craft Fair

Why buy locally? Well, it ensures good independent businesses are here for the long run; it’s beneficial for the environment; and you can get some pretty cool one-of-a-kind items. Finally, these businesses provide excellent learning opportunities: Use shopping trips as a way to educate your child about how local companies operate. If you're already buying locally, take it a step further by increasing the products you purchase. You'll be surprised at how many fine items are made right here in New York City.

One way to shop locally is to visit the flea markets and craft fairs where local artisans and retailers often sell their wares. Brooklyn seems to be the epi-center of these markets now. Below are some of the best markets to buy locally, plus, surprisingly, an online source for local shopping as well.

Renegade Craft Fair
On June 6th and 7th, 2009, the largest, most well-known Do-It-Yourself craft fair will be held in Brooklyn in McCarren Park. Check out over 200 booths where local NYC artists will be selling everything from clothing, toys, soaps, housewares, jewelry, and much more. In many cases, the artisans will be selling in person so you can buy items directly from the hands that made them.

Weekend Brooklyn Markets
Brooklyn is one of the birthplaces of the handmade movement, and with the assortment of awesome artisans that sell every Saturday and Sunday at a variety of markets you will be tempted to only shop handmade. Here is a list of some of the largest markets happening every weekend:

Brooklyn Flea
Remember the flea markets of old, full of dusty, worthless items no one would take for free, let alone pay for? Well, the new Brooklyn flea markets are nothing like those. The Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene (outdoors on Saturdays at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, on Lafayette Avenue between Clermont and Vanderbilt Avenues and, starting June 14th, on Sundays under the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO) mixes the best of yesterday and today—you might find cool 80s clothing from Funky Fanny’s or a handmade necklace from Birdhouse Jewelry. Teens will appreciate Brooklyn Flea’s many music vendors, while the little ones can enjoy treats made by Blue Marble Ice Cream and Kumquat Cupcakery.

Fun for kids: Once a month a few scavenger hunt items are listed on the Brooklyn Flea website and then hidden at one of the vendor tables at the market. Find them an they're yours, free!

Brooklyn Indie Market
Carroll Gardens' Brooklyn Indie Market (on Smith Street between President and Union Streets) is the launching pad of independent designers known for their quirky items, like Brooklyn Bridge necklaces and recycled clocks made out of old Scrabble boards (great for the kid’s room!). It's a great emerging designer market and is also nestled in a wonderfully quaint part of Brooklyn filled with unique shops and fun restaurants.

Park Slope Flea Market
The Park Slope Flea Market is a popular weekend shopping destination outside P.S 321, focusing on vintage clothing and furniture, like the 1960s hippie trash can yours truly once picked up there for dirt cheap.

Park Slope Flea
Park Slope Flea is the new kid in town. Their strength appears to be variety—over fifteen different types of items are available according to their Web site, ranging from Oriental rugs to car accessories.

Artists and Fleas
Yet another Brooklyn staple, operates in three different locations. The Indoor Designer and Artist Market is located at 129 N. 6
thStreet (between Bedford & Berry), the Vintage Market is held next door and features 15 hand selected vintage collectors, and the new Market at McCarren is a weekly outdoor market in Brooklyn's McCarren Park in partnership with the Open Space Alliance of North Brooklyn (OSA) to benefit McCarren Park. The first two markets run Saturday and Sunday; the McCarren Park market operates only on Saturday.

Shop Local Online
Shopping local doesn't have to mean forgoing the convenience of shopping online. If you find yourself pressed for time and can't make it out to weekend craft markets, you can be sure to find everything you need online at www.Etsy.com, the best place to buy handmade. Take a look - you'll be addicted! Add their blog, The Storque, to your feed reader to help you navigate all the talented sellers that are a part of this online marketplace. And you can shop local too, by entering your location in at this link. In addition, a metro New York group of local Etsy sellers called the {NewNew} collaborate on various events and team up to sell at the various craft markets in the city. You can check out their website here and get DIY projects, recipes, and product reviews on their blog.