It’s been almost three years since the flea market at Aqueduct Race track, a southern Queens staple for decades, was forced to close due to the construction of Resorts World Casino New York City.
But if you thought that meant the end of good deals and quick finds, you’d be wrong. The flea market is still alive — and growing — just across the border in Brooklyn in a new site with a new, though recognizable, name.
Given new life as the Aquaduck Flea Market — a term stemming from the local pronunciation of the racetrack it formerly called home — more than 500 vendors are now selling clothing, household items and knickknacks from under canopies, umbrellas and out of vans in a parking lot the size of a city block at 700 Fountain Ave. in Brooklyn, just across the border from Howard Beach.
The lot is a brand new home for the flea market, which moved onto the site just a few weeks ago. It is more than twice the size of the parking field the flea market operated out of last year a block away on Flatlands Avenue, according to co-owner Steven “Big Steve” Valenti.
But even with the new space and the giant billboard at Erskine Street just off the Belt Parkway, Big Steve said he is still trying to get the word out to old Aqueduct customers that the market is back.
“I can’t tell you how many people don’t know we’re open yet,” he said. “We’re trying to let people know we’re here and we’re open for business.”
Customers will find some changes in the new flea market that make shopping easier. At Aqueduct, the market was open three days a week — Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday — and closed at 4 p.m. It was also only open from March through December.
But Aquaduck is open year-round, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“People are hungrier to sell and they’re hungrier to buy,” Big Steve explained.
Many of the vendors at Aquaduck were also vendors at Aqueduct. Dozens of them came back this year after working for several years in other flea markets as far away as New Jersey and Suffolk County.
Aquaduck’s customer base isn’t just Brooklyn or Queens. Big Steve said the market gets customers from all five boroughs and well beyond that.
“We cater from all the boroughs,” Steve said. “And we have customers that come from as far away as Boston and Washington DC.”
Dominic Ammerman is the owner and operator of the flea market.
“We have nearly everything you’d want to buy,” he said. “And customers find it to be a very inviting place.”
The flea market is involved in a number of charity events, especially during the holiday season, Ammerman said, including collecting toys around Christmas, donating turkeys at Thanksgiving and donating to scholarships.
“We choose to be a part of the community and we’re happy to be here,” he said.