Last minute gifts for less than $50 found at Union Sq. Holiday Market

One-of-a-kind leather-bound journals (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Christmas now days away, those who have yet to finish their gift shopping — or start — needn’t panic.

Quality gifts aplenty can be found at The Union Square Holiday Market, which, each year, features goods from around 150 vendors at the southern end of the park. Town & Village recently wandered around in search of last-minute gift ideas and found a bunch, all for $50 or less.

Journals with covers made of leather or wood

New company Bora Ninova (created by one of the three brothers behind Bora Jewelry, a longtime market vendor) makes one-of-a-kind journals, manufactured in Turkey. The covers are made from either wrought leather in rich colors or thin wooden panels with etched drawings and are all priced between $20-$45.

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Police Watch: Woman arrested for swiping ice cream, Man charged with assault

WOMAN ALLEGEDLY SWIPED DOZENS OF CARTONS OF ICE CREAM
Police arrested 32-year-old Christina Figueroa for an alleged theft inside the Food Emporium at 10 Union Square East on Monday, December 3 at 7:12 p.m. Police said that Figueroa took 50 containers of ice cream from the store without paying for the items.

MAN CHARGED WITH ASSAULT OF OFFICERS AT BETH ISRAEL
Police arrested 28-year-old Julian Dejesus for an alleged assault inside Beth Israel Hospital at 281 First Avenue on Monday, December 3 at 9:22 p.m. Police said that Dejesus went to the hospital voluntarily to be evaluated but once he became aware that he was going to be admitted into the psychiatric ward, he became irate and allegedly began fighting with security. Police said that two security officers were injured while trying to subdue him.

MAN CHARGED WITH 2017 ROLEX THEFT
Police arrested 32-year-old Tyrone Hood on Monday, December 3 at 10:09 a.m. inside the 13th precinct for an alleged theft that took place last year. Police said that the victim invited Hood and another person who wasn’t arrested back to his apartment at 332 East 18th Street after meeting them at a bar on September 9, 2017 around 3 a.m. When he woke up later, the men were gone and his watch and Rolex were missing. No other arrests have been made.

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Police Watch: Alleged subway ‘grinder’ arrested, Men charged with assault outside Food Emporium

ALLEGED SUBWAY ‘GRINDER’ ON 6 TRAIN ARRESTED
Police arrested 64-year-old Mohamed Abdel Rahim for alleged sexual abuse inside the Union Square station on Tuesday, November 20 at 5:30 p.m. Rahim allegedly thrust his erect penis onto the victim’s buttocks while they were on an uptown 6 train. Police said that Rahim and the victim did not know each other.

MEN CHARGED WITH ASSAULT OUTSIDE FOOD EMPORIUM
Police arrested 43-year-old Kitwane Parkinson and 39-year-old Alexander Rivera for an alleged assault on Monday, November 19 at 4:25 p.m. in front of 10 Union Square East. Parkinson and Rivera allegedly kicked and punched the victim inside the location due to an argument they had earlier in the day. Police said that the victim had bruised lips.

WOMAN ACCUSED OF STEALING WALLET FROM HOLIDAY MARKET VENDOR
Police arrested 32-year-old Dominique Elgin for an alleged theft that took place in Union Square earlier this month. A vendor at the Union Square Holiday Market told police that she left her purse on a chair in her booth on Sunday, November 18 and around 5:50 p.m., she noticed that her wallet was missing from the bag. Police said that Elgin had allegedly used the victim’s credit card. She was busted on Wednesday, November 21 at 7:20 p.m. inside the 13th Precinct.

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T&V’s last minute gift guide

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Procrastinators who’ve left their holiday shopping until the last minute needn’t worry that they’ve run out of time to find gifts people will actually want. For those frazzled folks, T&V offers a last-minute gift guide, highlighting a few local shops and holiday market booths with goods sure to please even the pickiest family members.

Hatbox of cheese (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Hatbox of cheese (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

For the foodie
Beecher’s New York, 900 Broadway, between East 19th and 20th Streets, (212) 466-3340, beechershandmadecheese.com
A cheese monger at Beecher’s told T&V said that the company’s cheese curds are a unique and frequent gift because the squeaky snack is not always easy to find. The shop also sells pre-made gift sets offering a hat box full of cheese and crackers for $55. A couple of options are available with different varieties of cheeses, with one offering the shop’s popular fig spread.
For the lactose intolerant, the shop also has a handful of quirky sauces and spreads, including the fig jam, a rosemary and pear spread and caramel mustard. For the most adventurous lactose tolerant, the shop offers a chevre cheesemaking kit for $27.

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Great gifts at the Holiday Market

Stuyvesant Town resident and vendor Mick Joseph notes one of the recent changes to the yearly market at Union Square, which is the addition of sections like “Lil Brooklyn.” Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town resident and vendor Mick Joseph notes one of the recent changes to the yearly market at Union Square, which is the addition of sections like “Lil Brooklyn.” (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The Union Square Holiday Market, which, every year, takes over the south end of Union Square Park for the five weeks leading up to Christmas, has now been around for over two decades.

But UrbanSpace, the company behind the long-running event, has made some changes this year, including putting in two stages for performances, an area for children’s activities, and a new section called Urban Provisions for packaged food items. There’s also been an expansion to a recently introduced section called Little Brooklyn, with many additional booths run by craftspeople and merchants from that borough. Aesthetic changes include more lighting and tree branches fashioned into archways and logs placed here and there to give the market a more woodsy feel.

Taking a T&V reporter on a stroll through the market earlier this week to explore some of the new additions was Mick Joseph. Joseph, a resident of Stuyvesant Town, is a market veteran, having operated a booth for DezignMind, the company she runs with husband Claus Ronnex-Printz for the past 14 years.

For that company, the couple works with families in different countries, in particular Bali and Thailand, to produce items Joseph designs, from wooden percussion animals that make surprisingly accurate noises when brushed with a baton or used as a whistle to fragrant clove boxes and ornaments to decorative masks.

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Unique gifts found at Holiday Market

 

planes

A few plane mobiles bounce in place at the Real Life Inspired Planes booth at the Union Square Holiday Market. The booth is one of 150 to do business at the market this year. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

On November 21, the annual Union Square Holiday Market opened for business with 150 booths hawking items from jewelry to clothing to artwork to toys, all from small businesses and artisans. The market, located at the south end of Union Square Park, will run seven days a week through Christmas Eve.

Since the selection of items can feel overwhelming, Town & Village has rounded up a list of suggested gifts. Many are handmade and unique items designed by local craftsmen and women.

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Holiday Market is big business for city as well as organizer and 150 vendors

The Union Square Holiday Market, now in its 19th year (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The Union Square Holiday Market, now in its 19th year (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

For small businesses looking to boost foot traffic during holiday season, there is arguably no better location than a holiday market, specifically, the 150-plus booth one that takes place at Union Square Park each year.

The market has grown over the 19 years it’s been run there by the company Urban Space, occupying the south end of the park, and a stroll through on any day it’s open clearly shows there’s always a steady stream of shoppers.

Urban Space has kept a tight lid on what it charges vendors for use of its red and white striped booths, but on a recent day, an operator of a medium-sized booth said his rent was about $15,000. This is for the five weeks, November 21 to Christmas Eve, that the event runs. Not that he was complaining. “It’s the busiest hub in the city,” he said. He, like the majority of merchants there, are repeat tenants, and those thinking of becoming one might want to sign up soon. A rep for Urban Space, Rachel Van Dolsen, said that the “footprint” of the event has gotten as big as it’s going to get.

Van Dolsen declined to discuss rents for booths although she said the aforementioned figure didn’t sound accurate. (Another vendor at last year’s event, however, told T&V that amount sounded similar to what she paid, though hers was a little higher. “Expensive, but worth it,” she said.)

Along with its location on top of an entrance to the Union Square subway, the market has become a hit with shoppers looking for items that are handmade or hard to find as opposed to mass-produced items, which Urban Space doesn’t allow.

Last year the amount of money the company shelled out to the city in exchange for use of the park was $1,378,972, so even without official numbers, it’s clear the bustling bazaar must do pretty well for the organizer. The city of course makes out too, with its cut going to a general fund.

The Union Square Holiday Market (Photo courtesy of Urban Space)

The Union Square Holiday Market (Photo courtesy of Urban Space)

Of course, being that the event runs throughout one of the year’s coldest months, even with the built-in foot traffic, there are still going to be retailers who don’t want to conduct business outdoors as well as businesses that wouldn’t be able to sell effectively in one of the stalls.

As Faith Hope Consolo, a broker for the real estate firm Douglas Elliman, explained it, “The holiday market is for a very specific customer, and if that retailer sells products for that shopper, sure, it makes sense to go there. These can include holiday decorations, ornaments, one-of-a-kind gifts. But a pop-up probably makes more sense for apparel. You might want to try on something, and an outdoor market is not the place for that.” Electronics are also not a big seller at markets, noted Consolo, though accessories are.

At this time, asking rents for retail spaces around Union Square are around $60 per square foot to $90 per square foot on the side streets, while asking rents on the avenues are a whopping $400 per square foot. The rent gets higher closer to Flatiron, added Consolo. And of course, these are the prices for longterm leases, not pop-up shop spaces, which around holiday time, are hard to come by.

“There are fewer pop-up opportunities at the holidays because many retailers will lease a holiday shop well in advance,” said Consolo. “But someone can always find something if they look long and hard enough.”

Ultimately, as for whether it makes more sense to rent at the market or at a store, “Holiday markets have the same rule of thumb as any retail site,” said Consolo. “Better locations have higher rents. You pay more to be near entrances, etc. And Union Square certainly is bustling as more retailers, restaurants and services open to appeal to all the high-tech workers and residents there.”

In related neighborhood retail news, to help push shopping at neighborhood stores as the market is open, the Union Square Partnership has been offering District Deals booklets at the information booth at the market (across from the subway entrance gazebo). The booklets contain over 40 deals from retailers like Union Square Wines and Spirits and Jivamukti’s yoga school.