In ancient Athens, the Agora was the city’s chief marketplace, a gathering spot and the center of civic life. So when Lucy Palacios was thinking of a name for the outdoor market she was starting in Long Island City, ‘agora’ seemed perfect, because that is what she hopes the market becomes.
After operating for two Saturdays in May, then being pushed back a week because of Hurricane Irene, the Agora LIC outdoor market returned to Long Island City on Saturday, Sept. 3.
Palacios said she could use one word to describe the market. “Diverse,” she said. “We have jewelry, food vendors, homemade crafts, home goods, organic products. Lots of great categories.”
And it’s the market’s diversity that made it attractive to Anthony Fernandez.
Fernandez, a welder from Jackson Heights, came to the market in search of some low-cost jewelry for his girlfriend.
“I was very impressed by the different types of items,” he said. “I was able to get some jewelry for my girlfriend, and I also got a couple of things for my mother.”
Jeffrey Russell of LIC was helping a vendor, but also said he enjoyed looking at graphic art, figurines and toys, though he really enjoyed the body products from Nicci Silva and Amy Rivera, sisters from New Jersey who make homemade body products for their DollyMoo brand.
The sisters had the most popular booth at the market, with their homemade, organic body scrub and oils being big sellers.
Silva started the brand about a year ago after working at an organic restaurant. She became more aware of what she was putting on and putting in her body, so she researched and starting making products for herself and as gifts. The feedback from friends and family was so good that she and her sister decided to turn it into a business. They’ve attended crafts shows and markets, and just recently launched a website, dollymoo.com, where you can purchase scrubs, oils and lip balm, some of which are made from Dead Sea salt and pink Himalayan salt.
DollyMoo, which is a nickname Silva and Rivera were given by their grandmother, is just the type of vendor Palacios wants at the Agora market.
“It is a great place for people to grow their business,” she said. “Our ideal vendor is a young start-up, and we can give them a way to connect with the public, pass along information about their product.”
These types of vendors is what makes this market different, Palacios said. In addition to DollyMoo, the market had vendors selling a variety of items.
Veda Sukhu of East Elmhurst brought her own Veda’s Cakes and Catering, selling homemade pastries ranging from tassies, guava buns, cheese rolls, pine tarts and almond cookie cake. It was her first time at an outdoor market.
Diecast Hot Wheels from the 1970s and earlier were being sold by Flor Colon and his wife Maria Faralando of Jackson Heights. They are usually at the St. Mark’s Flea Market and will also be at Agora on Sept. 10.
With seemingly hundreds of markets every weekend in the city, Palacios wanted something to make the Agora market unique and that something is what she calls “tasty-crafty.” Not only does the Agora market have vendors selling homemade arts and crafts, but there are vendors selling homemade tasty treats, corn-on-the-cob and fresh-squeezed lemonade in addition to various pastries.
There were vendors selling CDs and DVDs, school supplies, homemade Moroccan slippers, books, handbags, make-up, clothing and shoes. It was outdoor market diversity at its finest.
On his way out, Fernandez, clearly impressed by the difference in products from vendor to vendor, said that he was coming back later in the afternoon with his mother and girlfriend.
“They love these kinds of things, but we usually have to visit a couple different markets all over the city,” he said. “At Agora, everything is in one place, and that is what makes this market so attractive.
The market will run on Sept. 10 and Sept. 24, Oct. 1, 22 and 29, and Nov. 5 and 12. Palacios hopes to attract even more unique vendors and visitors in the next two months. The Agora LIC outdoor market has a Twitter (@agoraLIC) and Facebook page (search ‘Agora LIC’), and Palacios often updates each with pictures from that day’s market and information on vendors and products.
Agora LIC is located at the St. Mary’s church parking lot between Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue, one block north of the Vernon-Jackson stop on the No. 7 train.