Just in time for holiday shopping, new craft market appears in Jamaica

Shoppers gather to hear a violinist perform, one of the many musical acts to take part in the night market, during this past fall in Jamaica.
Photo courtesy Charles Sturges
By Tammy Scileppi

After making a successful splash earlier this year with their outdoor shopping venue, organizers of the Jamaica Market return for a series of holiday sales events beginning Saturday.

The Winter Craft Market will boast about 40 vendors — many from Queens — showcasing arts, crafts and a variety of artisanal food for sale.

With his new holiday market endeavor, Queens International Night Market founder John Wang said he hopes to play a small part in the renaissance of Jamaica, while drawing visitors from around the borough and across the city to an incredibly diverse location.

“This is something we hope to capitalize on, as well as add value to,” Wang said.

Jamaica is poised to demonstrate its potential as a major hub of commercial and economic activity, according to Wang, who has again teamed up with the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. to sponsor the events.

“I know a lot of markets try to go where it makes the most economic sense, where they are catering to an audience with the right demographic parameters, and that makes sense,” Wang said. “Jamaica has been the perfect stage to test the idea that a quality market can help stimulate the local economy and bolster local entrepreneurs and artists, as well as positively affect the outside perception of a neighborhood.”

The organizers are committed to showing that there is a demand and market for quality craft and artisanal products in Jamaica.

Wang pointed out this new project represents another opportunity to demonstrate that “affordable and accessible markets can serve as instruments of economic development and social change.”

And, as with the night market, organizers are emphasizing low vendor fees to broaden accessibility.

“The feedback from local communities and stakeholders about the Jamaica iteration of the International Night Market was so overwhelmingly positive, that we wanted to capture the momentum and sponsor another market locally during the winter months,” Mary Reda, director of real estate operations for Greater Jamaica, said.

Wang said his Greater Jamaica partners have been incredibly supportive and helpful since he first approached them with his idea about the night market.

“While they obviously had incentive to encourage me to start projects in Jamaica, they also just wanted to make sure my visions happened somewhere, sometime,” Wang said.

While splitting his time between the Winter Craft Market and planning for next year’s International Night Market. Wang said he is striving to create events that promote small businesses as much as possible.

“I’m certainly no expert on Queens’ overall economy, or the nuances and drivers behind it, but despite the major corporations headquartered here and the industries related to JFK and LaGuardia, it seems to me that Queens is still driven by small business,” he said. “It’s a borough defined by its diversity, and I think that wouldn’t be true if it weren’t defined by a culture of small business and entrepreneurs.”

With several important projects in the works, Jamaica Center BID Executive Director Rhonda Binda has also been working hard to revitalize the area, and said she was very excited to hear about the new market’s debut.

“As Jamaica Avenue gears up for the most wonderful time of the year, we are excited to showcase artists’ and vendors’ unique crafts and local talent at our very first Winter Craft Market. Like Bryant Park and Grand Central Station, we now have a local version for those looking to purchase that very special gift for their loved one to celebrate the holidays,” she said. “The market plays into the winter wonderland theme we are creating for our loyal shoppers on the avenue.”

If you Go

Winter Craft Market

When: Dec. 5, 12 and 19, from 10 am – 7 pm

Where: 159-15 Jamaica Ave., Jamaica

Website: gjdc.org/economic-development/winter-craft-market

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