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Shops from a Can: DeKalb Market Opens in Brooklyn

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What do you do with a stack of pre-Credit Crisis megaloplex plans and a 1.5 million square foot, post-Crisis cement hole?  Why, make lemonade, of course!

Since 2008, not-Ft. Greene-not-DUMBO (NoFUMBO?) has awaited 60 stories of neo-ultra-Wow where Brooklyn’s Albee Square Mall once stood.  We’ve scanned the Brownstoner and wondered, watching that blue plywood fence sway in the wind.  Till now.

Now, from Manhattan Bridge to DeKalb, Flatbush Ave. is transformed.  Kiosks direct tourists and Manhattanites. That blue fence?  Gone.

Instead, broad steps descend past produce beds to a canopied dining area.  Shipping containers become boutiques, concessions, a radio station...

Downtown Brooklyn, meet DeKalb Market.  DeKalb Market, DoBro (as promoters say).  Lemonade, anyone?

Or there’s local beer.  There’s coffee (duh), cupcakes.  Soul food.  A flea market.  Artists and Pratt Institute have staked containers, too.  

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Conex containers!  My Alaskan rust-belt forebears (not Anchorage, not a National Park) adapted these global cast-offs for everything from snowmobile storage to earth-sheltered “cabins”.  And here they are, epitomizing go-go green-market Brooklyn style.  Thank 4th Space Metals for that: tell them what you want, and they'll chop it to go.

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The heat’s brutal.  Yet despite incomplete AC, DeKalb Market’s crowd is steady. Teen Battle Chefs offer creations from the garden. Flea marketeers move steady streams of “naive” artwork, priceless tchotchkes and Indian fabric.  BBOXRADIO.COM keeps bumpin them big, fat beats. 

I sip my quarter tank of lemonade.  From here, the economy looks just fine.

Nathan Keene is a Brooklyn-based writer.

Photos courtesy of Nathan Keene

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