By Tammy Scileppi
A night market is coming to Queens — hopefully.
Once it’s here, it should be an event where international and local truly go hand in hand.
There’s no shortage of street fairs and day-time flea markets in New York City and Queens, but surprisingly, night markets are nowhere to be found.
The concept is popular in Western Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa, with some of these markets steeped in hundreds, if not thousands, of years of history.
While local entrepreneur, John Wang’s idea for his Queens International Night Market is inspired by similar ventures from around the world, he insists he wants to create “a uniquely diverse and international experience.” He believes a multicultural center like Queens is the perfect location to support such an endeavor.
The Texas-born New Yorker, who has lived in Gotham for seven years but still says “y’all” on occasion, recalled that as a kid, he enjoyed visiting night markets in Taiwan — his parents’ homeland. Wang said his project is also inspired by his later travels.
“Seeking out local markets, daytime or nighttime, indoor or outdoor, is still my favorite way to immerse myself in different cultures,” Wang said. “I feel that markets represent great opportunities to interact with and learn from locals.”
Wang’s goal is to feature more than 100 vendors that will celebrate and showcase the cultural and ethnic diversity of Queens and New York City through food, art and merchandise, Wang said.
He envisions it as a place where Queens’ families, New Yorkers from other boroughs, and tourists can come and meet members of the community and hear their stories.
“We also want small-scale cultural performances to enrich the whole experience,” he said. “We want to create an engaging space where local businesses can come out and share their goods and stories.”
A Yale law and business school graduate, Wang, 33, left his position as a corporate attorney in Manhattan two years ago, to pursue more personally fulfilling work, and decided to jump-start his night market venture, which has been in the works for over a year now.
His Kickstarter campaign followed and so far, $11,417 has been pledged, thanks to his supporters. His long-term goal is $100,000.
All contributions will help fund the nightly production expenses of his market.
“As of now, everything is still on schedule to launch on April 25. We are still fielding vendor and performer applications, and we want a lot more of those,” Wang said. “We are also trying to spread the word for our Kickstarter campaign, which will help us subsidize our vendor fees relative to those at other markets in New York City.”
Wang believes visitors can feel a certain electricity when they stroll through a moonlit market, which does not happen when shopping at a daytime market. His plans would have the market open on Saturdays from 6 p.m. to midnight.
He also believes Queens is the ideal location for such a venture.
“I love that it can often be more affordable than the other boroughs, and that there are still so many secret treasures to find,” Wang said. “I love all the things that are happening — from the tech movement, to the tourism campaigns, the focus on Flushing Meadows Corona Park… and, of course, I like that so many cool breweries are popping up, too.”
Wang’s project, a massive undertaking, has turned into more than a full-time job.
“I don’t have much time these days to do anything but focus on the Night Market. There are a lot of moving pieces, with the Kickstarter campaign, the vendor applications, and the event logistics,” he said.
And he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community.
“It has been incredible and humbling. There are many people who are volunteering to help out of pure generosity and a shared belief in the vision,” Wang said. “I’ve gotten immeasurable support and help from community leaders, foodies, designers, operations and event organizers.”
Wang hopes the market finds a home in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“We are in the final stages of negotiation with the New York Hall of Science,” he said. “It resonates with the legacy of the World’s Fairs, is a short walk from the 7-train, and is spacious enough to accommodate our vision.”
Project link: https://kck.st/1C18Cvt