How to Win a Shipping Container Storefront for Your Small Biz in Downtown Brooklyn

New Business Development Plan

We’ve been remiss in not reporting on one of our favorite food-market projects to hit this city in years, one of those Big Ideas like Brooklyn Flea or New Amsterdam Market. That’s Dekalb Market, which is headed to the downtown Fulton Mall on the old Albee Square mall spot in downtown Brooklyn this summer.

It’s a joint project from Urban Space (they run all those outdoor holiday markets, like one next to the Greenmarket in Union Square) and the real estate development company Youngwoo & Associates.

Meant to be mixed use and stocked with vendors and community-minded projects that will appeal to all of Brooklyn’s diverse communities, the tiny 1-acre market will include local food vendors and local craftspeople and artists, many operating out of work-sell spaces that were once 8’ wide by 20’ long by 9.5’ high steel shipping containers; a performance space; and an incubator farm to show folks how to raise food in cities and also hopefully to grow a little produce for the folks making sandwiches right in the space.

For a list of vendors already on board, like 3rd Ward and Robicelli’s Cupcakes, check the right side of this page, and if you’re interesting in selling, go here. Last and perhaps most importantly, if you’d like to score one of those containers for your very own, Dekalb Market is holding a contest for proposals — “Not Just a Container” — on how to use one for making music or art, to make jams or jellies or ricotta cheese, for growing sprouts or hanging gardens or making recycled leather shopping bags… heck the rectangular space could even become art or agriculture itself. Entries are due by April 6th, and five finalists for ideas that are actually buildable will be selected  by a panel that includes yours truly on April 19, which will be posted for public voting until April 30.

The winner essentially gets the small biz hook-up: A container license (for work/sell space) rent-free for six months; a $3,000design/construction budget and free consultation; some construction materials from Green Depot; a one year membership to 3rd Ward; a one year membership to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce plus press exposure and an online feature at www.dekalbmarket.com and, one imagines, right here, too.

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Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.