“We’re still debating on names. It’ll be either Kent Avenue Market, Kent Avenue Shops, or Shops at 240 Kent,” says Renée Cecris, owner of Renée New York, a “girly” boutique in the newish, yet-to-be-named market near Williamsburg’s waterfront. The retail space is bright and airy, with dozens of little shops and businesses to wander through, and outgoing designers and shop owners to boot.
“Foot traffic has been low,” explains Jacqueline Yu of the hat and hand-made jewelry store Oat, which opened in July. “But it’s getting better.” Yu guessed that most people looking to shop don’t venture much farther south than South 3rd St. “They think it’s all warehouses.”
Though the building certainly has a warehousey feel (almost all the shop owners seemed to have plans for either expansion, organization, or decoration and many spaces are still empty as of now) there’s certainly potential here. Cecris says she thinks the place will be “huge,” and “better than Chelsea Market.”
Thems big shoes to fill for sure, but she might be on to something. The building houses a variety of different retailers: a barber shop, jewelry and clothing boutiques, a juice bar, furniture store, hip backpack den, a specialty vaporizer store — and the newly opened Brick + Mortar. The affordable prices, rarely seen these days in Williamsburg, are definitely a selling point.
Danna Lee, who opened Hush Hush Closet a month ago, says Williamsburg’s pricier vintage shops are what inspired her to open up her place. “I want cute vintage, but I don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars,” she explains.
Accessible retail space helps keep the prices down at this market. Jacqueline Yu tells B+B that rent isn’t outrageous: “I wouldn’t say cheap, but it’s convenient. You have electricity, internet, everything you need is already set up.” She explains that it’s much easier for a young designer “short on cash,” or shop owner just starting out to open up a retail space here and run it single-handedly.
A receptionist at Green Desk, which rents out the compartments as well as the ones at a similar mini mall in DUMBO, said rents start at $750 a month for a 96-square-foot space and top out at $5,000 a month for a 540-square-foot space. She estimated the mall was 90% full.
The owners definitely take pride in their little plots. Hush Hush Closet is filled with a variety of affordable vintage pieces Lee and her business partner Ashley hand-picked and bagged during their cross-country road trip. Oh, there’s also a pioneer bed from the 1800s just sittin’ pretty by the make-shift dressing room.
Though not everything throughout the market seemed to be made locally or by hand, each shop had at least a little something unique and made by the owner. Even the Vapor Lounge, owned by Ilona Orscanksy and Jordan Jubela, which stocks dozens of nicotine and non-nicotine flavors, has some homemade vapor selections. This reporter even sucked down some tiramisu to her absolute horror. Though to be fair it was not one of the in-house flavor concoctions, which were all fabulous.
Business seems scant for now, but there’s certainly a sense of optimism. Almost every shop owner talked about future plans ranging from night markets to new products. Cecris is confident the lounge, which is currently under construction and apparently awaiting a liquor license, will bring in more people.
For now the retailers are still nest building, but stay tuned, there’s talk of a Halloween party with free booze.