Queens Night Market eyes April return, offers small business seminars beginning Feb. 23

After missing last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Queens Night Market is planning to return to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in April. (Photo by Sarah Choi)

The Queens Night Market, which was sidelined all of last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will return for its sixth season at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park this spring.

The event, which drew almost 15,000 visitors a night in 2019, is targeting Saturday nights from April 17 through Oct. 30.

“It’s hard to keep up with all the pandemic news and the vaccine rollout, and just like everyone else, we’re constantly hitting the refresh button on our browser,” Queens Night Market Founder John Wang said. “When the light at the end of the tunnel finally emerges, whether it’s in mid-April or later in the summer, we plan to be there, joyously welcoming back New Yorkers in celebration of diversity and solidarity.”

Since its debut in 2015, the Queens Night Market has helped launch 300 brand-new businesses and represented 90 countries through its vendors and their food. Given the squeeze on vendor margins that the event’s price cap on food creates, it makes little financial sense for the Night Market to open while there are significant restrictions on attendance but Wang expects a pent-up demand for social gatherings to be overwhelming, and even more so for an event with a nearly obsessive focus on affordability, accessibility and diversity.

The market has received nearly 150 applications thus far for its 2021 season. Interested vendors can apply online here, or direct questions to [email protected]

“The pandemic has not only been devastating for small businesses and entrepreneurs trying to make ends meet, but I think it will have a chilling effect on entrepreneurship for years to come,” Wang said.

As it continues to track the vaccine rollout in hopes of a season opening in April, the Queens Night Market will host a series of free small business seminars beginning Feb. 23. This year, the seminars will be presented virtually with the city’s Department of Small Business Services, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and the Queens Economic Development Corporation and will cover a range of topics such as business plans, branding and marketing, operational efficiency, social media and technology, and obtaining permits.

“The Queens Night Market has aspired to lower the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, and over 300 businesses have made their operational debut at the event,” Wang said. “We hope these seminars will encourage at least a few aspiring entrepreneurs to step into the decimated small business economy that will ultimately fuel New York’s recovery.”

In years past, as many as 90 aspiring entrepreneurs have attended the seminars. Anyone interested in participating can find more details and RSVP for sessions here.

“The pandemic has entirely shifted the business landscape, creating a greater necessity for small business resources,” Small Business Services Commissioner Jonnel Doris said. “We are thrilled to partner with the Queens Night Market once again, to deliver seminars that will help entrepreneurs launch and maintain a successful business in a post-COVID-19 world and contribute to the city’s diversity.”

A survey showed that food vendors at the Queens Night Market averaged nearly $2,000 in sales per night in the event’s last season in 2019, which may be surprising in light of the $5 price cap on food. The numbers provide a glimpse into the financial impact a lost season on the vendors who were scheduled to participate.

“The market’s temporary closure last year was a blow to participating small businesses and entrepreneurs, so I’m very pleased it will be back and better than ever this year,” Richards said. “I’m also pleased to join with our partners in hosting free small business seminars that will be greatly informative and helpful to small business owners who have struggled so much over the past year.”

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