By Karen Knapstein
Every Sunday, Grand Bazaar NYC welcomes shoppers from around the world to its Upper West Side venue at 100 West 77th Street at Columbus Avenue. More than 150 local antiques dealers, merchants, and vendors present their wares and goods in indoor and outdoor stands. They fill more than 43,000 square feet of selling space.
Grand Bazaar: Curating a Community
In all probability, there truly is something for everyone. According to its literature, Grand Bazaar NYC “takes great pride in curating a creative and thriving community of artists, designers, artisanal food makers, and antique/vintage dealers.” Executive director Marc Seago reveals, “We have the best of everything including art, antiques, crafts, vintage, handmade jewelry, furniture, and tasty artisanal foods.”
The mission of the Grand Bazaar NYC is every bit as noble as the unique variety of goods: All profits are given to support four local public schools, benefiting more than 4,000 local school children. All profits raised from vendor rents are used for classroom teaching assistants, books, supplies, and activities that enhance students’ public school experiences.
One of the antiques dealers supporting the mission is Camilla G. Hellman, who says she has been a Grand Bazaar NYC vendor for about eight years. She specializes in British vintage and antique decorative accessories that add character to a home. Commenting she says, “I love silver, and that includes good Sheffield silver plate, and also British china - particularly late Victorian.” Hellman’s luxury goods offerings encourage buyers with “useful things that brighten our lives”; she likes what she sells to be “useful and useable.”
Shopping Shows School Support
She enjoys beautiful objects and making connections with her customers. Hellman remembers most those sales where a customer returns to tell her of specific sales. For example, when she sells one piece of china it may launch a collection, or perhaps a martini shaker she sold will inspire her customer to put together a stylish watering hole at home.
Or it could be a magnificent discovery. One of Hellman’s memorable sales also serves as a distinctive lesson. She relates the story: “A customer bought a lamp I thought was a rather wonderful Nouveau bronze lamp. I hadn’t triple checked it enthusiastically putting it out; it sold immediately. And the buyer returned to tell me he had resold it for many, many times what he paid.”
We can all benefit from Hellman’s hard-earned lesson: “I now check and listen to that inner voice a bit more!” she says.
Sharon Murphy of Tea Cups From Sharon has been selling at markets for more than a decade. Early on, Murphy says she was buying antiques at auctions and reselling to antique dealers. Now, she buys vintage and antique “porcelain from local residents and other dealers from New England, Pennsylvania, Kong Island, and the East Coast down to Virginia.”
Developing Beneficial System
Murphy also finds interesting pieces on the internet for her local customers. “Often, five or more
people offer me porcelain for sale at the Sunday Grand Bazaar NYC market,” she says.
Murphy explains, “I bring my newest acquisitions to Grand Bazaar NYC on Sundays. If they do not sell in two or three weeks, I list them on my Etsy shop [TeaCupsFromSharon.etsy.com and ManhattanFlamingo.etsy.com]. My porcelain inventory is now over 1,100 pieces. I offer shipping worldwide at Grand Bazaar and Etsy.”
Vienna-born Mathilde Freund can be described as the Grande Dame of Grand Bazaar NYC. And at 101 years old, she may be the world’s oldest antiques dealer. Selling at the market for more than 30 years, Freund is one of the Bazaar’s first dealers. Over the years, Freund has traveled extensively. She says whenever she traveled – especially Europe – she accumulated many nice things, and that’s what she’s vending now. Her space in the school cafeteria is filled with mostly vintage and some antique items, but she said she is well known for selling vintage costume jewelry.
Observing & Evolving With the Times
Much has changed over the decades. In the past, Freund would repair and sell vintage dresses, but “now it’s not such a big thing.” In addition to changing tastes, she says she used to see a lot more people coming from Europe; tourists from France, Norway, Italy, and Germany “were very good customers.” Furthermore, she notices there aren’t as many tourists anymore because people are afraid. But, she says, while business is not like it once was, she still has customers and does the best she can.
When asked about some of the lessons she’s learned over the years, and what business advice she would give her younger self (as a novice dealer), she says, “The customer is always right – don’t argue with them.”
Freund explains, “I see that sometimes vendors get offended [when shoppers want to pay less].” She advises, “Vendors should always be polite.” Furthermore, when faced with an offer that is lower than what she can accept, she says she tells the would-be buyer, “Maybe someday you’ll find something at that price.”
The dealers’ positive outlook is no doubt passed along to Bazaar visitors. Hellman says, “The Upper West Side where the market is located is an area that attracts customers who enjoy foraging and discovering at a market - and also appreciate finding the ‘better and unique.’ I do feel the neighborhood appreciate us being there – and I love the fact we are helping the school and children there.”
In conclusion, Freund echoes the optimism of the experience and the offerings. She’s sure you’ll be satisfied and come back and tell your friends. “You get wonderful things that you can’t get anyplace else,” she says. “Maybe someday you’ll discover a treasure. People used to go to the markets to find some treasures ... it’s rare, but you never know.”
Grand Bazaar NYC, New York’s largest curated weekly market, is open every Sunday year-round in Manhattan’s Upper West Side at 100 West 77th Street, at Columbus Avenue, from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Nearly 200 vendors will participate in the Grand Holiday Bazaar events taking place Dec. 17 and Dec. 24 from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.