By Bill Parry
The founder of the wildly popular Queens International Night Market is working with the city to help the borough’s independent vendors grow their businesses.
John Wang, the Mayor’s Office and the city’s Department of Small Business Services, are producing a series of free small business seminars during the run-up to the Night Market’s third season. The seminars, to be held at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, will cover such topics as creating a business plan, marketing, social media, securing financing, obtaining permit and navigating government regulation.
When Wang started the night market featuring multi-cultural independent vendors selling food, merchandise and art in 2015, he had to navigate through city regulations and funding to bring his vision to the parking lot behind the Queens Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The former corporate lawyer wanted to reproduce the open-air food bazaars he had experienced spending summers in his family’s homeland of Taiwan.
Last year the Queens International Night Market, held each Saturday evening during the warm weather months, averaged more than 8,000 visitors.
“Just as much as New York City is a global financial center, it is also a city of immigrants and small businesses. The neighborhoods and the cultural landscape here are inextricably shaped and driven by small enterprises and the unparalleled diversity,” Wang said. “Over the last two years, the Night Market has featured over 200 independent vendors representing over 60 countries. Over half of our vendors have been first-time entrepreneurs, making their business debut at the Night Market, so we are ecstatic to work with the Mayor’s Office and SBS to create this year’s small business seminar series.”
The free seminars are open to vendors interested in the Night Market, and also open to individuals and families interested in starting any type of business in New York City. More than 80 aspiring entrepreneurs enrolled for the same seminar series last year.
“The Queens International Night Market is one of the events that makes our city so special in that it brings us together to celebrate the diversity that makes us unique,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We are proud to support participating vendors. In offering them support to grow their business, we are investing in their creativity and drive to keep our city’s economy vibrant.”
The first session March 9, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. will focus on business planning and Night Market topics and tips. The second session March 14 will focus on marketing and social media marketing and the final session March 16 explores access to capital and navigating government. The seminars will feature guest speakers, networking and question and answer opportunities. More information and registration can be found at https://bit.ly/2017-i
“We are excited to provide a series of free workshops for Queens International Market vendors looking to grow their businesses,” SBS Commissioner Gregg Bishop said. “Our NYC Business Solutions Center in Queens will be providing this training and its services are accessible to business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the borough.”
Vendors wishing to apply for this year’s Queens International Night Market, running each Saturday night from April 22 until Aug. 19 and then Sept. 30 until Oct. 28, can direct questions to vendo
“The focus of the Night Market has always been on community, inclusiveness, and diversity — to cater to the broadest possible demographic,” Wang said. “The ultimate dream is to attract visitors and feature vendors from every country represented here in NYC.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr