Holiday shoppers looking to support small businesses can head to a new community-based weekend pop-up in Flatbush. Common Ground Marketplace opened for the first time on Nov.18 in the retail space beneath BKLYN Commons. Shoppers looking for local artisan goods this season can visit the marketplace on Dec. 9, 10, 16 and 17.
This new venture was founded by four Brooklyn community members and business owners: Johanne Brierre, NYBeauty Suites CEO; Allison Dunn, owner of Hibiscus Brew in Flatbush; Samantha Frank-Beckford founder of the Amulet Fairy; and Angel Yang, an entrepreneur who runs pop-ups for the AAPI community.
The founders say the marketplace will provide a lifeline to struggling Brooklyn businesses.
“Within the past year, I’ve personally been overwhelmed with calls from brick-and-mortar shop owners who are being forced to close their doors,” said Brierre. “Many of the businesses that define our neighborhood and Brooklyn at large are facing tough challenges going into the new year. We want to alleviate some of that pressure and create an opportunity for small business owners and vendors to bring in new customers and find new community support systems.”
Small business owner Edgina Desormeau will be selling baked goods from her eatery Bonbon Lackay, after facing numerous challenges keeping her store open in Park Slope. The shop, which originally imported items from Haiti, opened a physical location in 2021. Despite immense customer interest, Desormeau said the eatery struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic. Now, Desormeau is shifting to a commercial kitchen and pop-ups, including Common Ground Marketplace, to once again meet her customers face-to-face.
“Talk about unrest and challenges; we opened the store in Park Slope when we thought the worst of COVID was behind us — little did we know the city was going to face the Omicron wave. Then, we opened in June, 2021 and by September, we’d flooded twice back-to-back. But we definitely came out fighting,” Desormeau said. “Being able to move out of our brick-and-mortar, find a commercial kitchen, and then be in a space like the Common Ground Marketplace, it lifted so much off my shoulders in terms of different ways that we’re going to be able to serve our community and serve our customers. I love that the space exists where we can go and pop up for our fifth anniversary, despite being in the middle of this big transition.”
Bonbon Lackay was at the first Common Ground Marketplace Nov. 18 and 19, offering vanilla rum raisin cake; cookies; Haitian hot chocolate and one of its most popular offerings, soursop limeade.
“I am passionate about supporting small business owners, as they are the backbone of our economies,” said Allison Dunn. “That's why I partnered to create a space where small businesses can truly thrive, especially during the holiday season. Being part of this positive change for my community fills me with pride. I am dedicated to creating an environment where small businesses can flourish and contribute to the growth and prosperity of our local economy. By tapping into our networks and working together, we can achieve great things.”
Common Ground marketplace will be accessible to vendors before and after pop-ups as a place where they can connect, share resources and offer workshops on their craft.
“There are so many different pop-ups out there, but I think what really makes us distinct is that we’re offering a space that is going to be affordable and flexible for vendors,” Angel Yang said. “Along with selling their products, it’s really important for small business owners to also connect with each other and learn from each other.”