I love hearing the stories behind the businesses and probably just as much, I love the amazing products and services they create. Buying from small businesses exposes you to so many innovative and fresh new ways to shop, eat, dress, decorate, live....the list is endless.
Yesterday I experienced this first hand when I checked out (and proceeded to eat my way through) the Brooklyn "Smorgasburg", a food market the New York Times recently referred to as "a conglomeration of about 100 purveyors, including hawkers of handmade food, Greenmarket farmers and cookware vendors, gathering weekly at the East River in Williamsburg, Brooklyn." Situated on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with the gorgeous skyline of Manhattan as its backdrop, small tents, stands, tables and carts were set up by independent food and beverage vendors who were coming to sell, connect with customers and from what we saw, connect with each other as well (after all isn't that the key to entrepreneurial success, DIY and "do it with others"?).
It took every ounce of control for me not to eat my way through the entire market because I'll tell you, food-preneurs know how to bring it. The smells, the visually pleasing and tempting displays, the clever business names and ingenious and out of the box food creations and concoctions - it was a foodie's dream come true. It's also heaven for someone who never tires of hearing about an entrepreneur's "A ha Moment", their business ideas or what they're passionate about. I mean it's one thing to go into Trader Joe's or Whole Foods and find a sauce, frozen food or dessert that's from a small business and feel good about purchasing it, but it's an entirely different experience when you see it up close and in person, and many times when at markets like this you're also able to connect with the founder/creator themselves because like many entrepreneurs they are not only the mind behind the brand but also the cashier behind the counter, PR department, salesman, etc.
Armed with my personal reporting equipment (Blackberry) and my foodie friend Amanda of the food & travel blog The Bourne Explorer, I hit the tents, and though my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach (which means I have a stack of wonderful food that I honestly feel good about buying - and eating - at home now) we did manage to meet several great vendors and discover new food brands that will definitely be on our shopping lists in the future. Not only will I be sure to visit them at the market this coming weekend (if you're in NYC I dare you to try to go just once), but for those of you not in NYC I've listed their websites in thsi blog so you can check them out yourself.
For a full listing of the independent vendors who sell at Smorgasburg visit HERE (I'm guessing this list will grow).
One last thing before we get to what really matters (the food): Big Shout Outs, Snaps to Eric Demby, founder of Smorgasburg as well as the wildly popular Brooklyn Flea (market). Giving independent brands a place to sell and showcase their goods is what this movement is all about!
SABINA & AMANDA EAT Tin Shingle-STYLE at SMORGASBURG:
McClure's Pickles - Though we promised ourselves we'd first make the obligatory "lap around the market" to see our choices and get the lay of the land, I decided to stop my search for a really good pickle at this stand. Not only was the tasting sample perfection and the packaging great, but their Detroit/Brooklyn connection sealed the deal for this Michigan girl. I'm now the happy owner of the best Dill Garlic Pickle Spears this side of the East River and am also a fan of the recipes they post on their website.
*note: including recipes with your sales/products was a trend we definitely saw pop up more than once on our excursion to Smorgasburg.
Beth's Farm Kitchen - I think I love entrepreneur Beth Linskey as much as I love her mouth watering chutneys, pickled vegetables and jams that are anything but ordinary. My mom is a food-preneur who is difficult to please in the food department, but I knew that she'd be a fan of Beth's Rosemary& Garlic Jelly. Once you start looking at all the other jams (Blazing Tomato Chutney, traditional raspberry jam, fig jam, etc) you know you'll be leaving with something for yourself and someone else. I also grabbed a couple jars of rhubarb chutney which Beth said would go well with potato salad (mix with a little bit of yogurt, potatoes, etc she says...). Beth is the perfect person to have at these events. It's hard work to stand up and keep on your "game face" and smile for hours in the 90+ degree heat. This didn't stop team Beth's Farm Kitchen. They are a great example of how one should work a food market booth. They seemed happy to be there, excited to share their story and products, they helped me pick out things that my mom would like, that would work for a vegetarian like me, and even talked a little shop with Amanda about blogging (as entrepreneurs do).
As is the case with many successful small businesses, when the face of the business is as likeable and as well versed in customer service as Beth is, the customers are more than happy to be loyal and to spread the word. It doesn't hurt that Beth has jams that are affordable & innovative and the perfect hostess presents, but her ease at connecting with customers (like us) ensured I'll be Buying Entrepreneur with her in the future.
Dough - Hibiscus Donuts? Blood Orange Glazed Donuts? Enough said. Not only does Dough make a $2.00 doughnut that would make Dunkin' Donuts weep but they are perfect proof that small businesses have the ability to change things up and have taken the reigns in multiple industries when it comes to pushing boundaries, getting creative, innovative and new. Dough: our tastebuds thank you!
DuMont Burger - When I first moved to New York City I lived in Williamsburg ,and on "special" nights we'd skip the take-out and cooking and head over to DuMont, sit in the tree fort-esque backyard and feast on their famous burgers. The founders actually created DuMont because they thought the neighborhood was in desperate need of a great burger joint. As entrepreneurs do, they built it, and like in Field of Dreams, if you build it (well) they will come. DuMont remains one of the most popular spots to grab a decent dinner in the 'hood. Sometimes it's all about the simple things being done perfectly that make food so worth talking about. Amanda sampled their sliders at Smorgasburg and we'll take her word for it that they were amazing(since leaving the "'burg" I've gone vegetarian and could only gaze at the burgers with fond memories about how good they were). That said, the vegetarians weren't left out of the feasting....
Asia Dog - This hot dog shop known for their Asian inspired hot dogs filled my need for something substantial/satisfied my recent hot dog cravings with a vegetarian hot dog called the "Mel & Steve". I'm not always a fan of "fake meat" but this hot dog was amazing and came topped with Asian Sesame Slaw and scallions, all on a perfectly toasted bun. The founders of Asia Dog started their company in a backyard of a friend's bar and just got their first Brick & Mortar store as well - go Mel & Steve!
Cemitas - Amanda walked by this booth several times where Danny Lyu was creating these sandwiches. I think she ordered it because of how interesting it looked (and how many layers it packed in) and though Danny doesn't have a site up yet, I've linked to an example of this food-based work of art - HERE.
The line for Cemitas was a good enough review from the crowd.
Anarchy in a Jar - I think I would love this jam company for their name alone, but if that doesn't do it for you just check out their jam offerings: Ginger Pear, Strawberry Balsamic, Grapefruit & Smoked Salt...). From a small business standpoint, we love how Anarchy in a Jar's website delivers all the information you need from them from their Twitter to where they will be selling next to their recent press. Is the information on your website as easy to access? Take notes from these savvy entrepreneurs!
Flour City Pasta - Visiting Flour City's tent was one of my favorite experiences at Smorgasburg because like Beth of Beth's Farm Kitchen, their product was innovative and enticing and their customer service was spectacular. The vendor not only sold us on some amazing pasta (Chipotle Cilantro, Wasabi or Citrus pasta anyone?) but told us the story of Rochester, NY (their home base) once being the "flour city" of the United States, he included recipes for each flavor with our purchases and directed us to the website for more recipes and products. Another reason I've fallen in love with Flour City? The emphasis on community and shopping locally their company you can find throughout their website and business.
You'd think we'd be full by now. You're wrong.
Time for S'more...!
Whimsy & Spice - I've been craving s'mores since I moved to New York City and have been known to attempt to make them on a Brooklyn stove and once with a lighter...Both attempts failed miserably. The team at Whimsy & Spice, however, were armed with "urban bonfires" (big blow torches) and gourmet marshmallows which they toasted and put atop homemade graham crackers & chocolate. I was a happy woman. Be sure you check out this husband & wife team online for both their story & their goodies!
The Brooklyn Bean Company - I'm always looking for new ways to eat my vegetables and this booth tempted me right away. Not only because of their massive bean selection but because the team behind the brand was so helpful. I left with a pound of big, buttery lima beans and a recipe along with directions on how to best cook the beans. Another thing I like about the Brooklyn Bean Co. is that their booth drew you in though was quite simple (pretty, white bags full of beans, big scoops and coffee bean bags stamped with their logos for you to take your purchase home in). Simple, affordable and well done.
Let's wash it all down!
All this eating made us thirsty, and fortunately The Stand was there to make it all better. Lemonade is a must in the summer and their lemonade took it to a whole new level - their Hibiscus lemonade was heaven. The vendor/founder described it as "walking into a flower garden" and she was right.
There came a point that we had to stop ourselves before we ate ourselves into a food coma which was a shame as there were so many more vendors whose food I will definitely be coming back to check out. The list will most likely grow weekly but for now you can read about them HERE.
Until later, remember to Buy & Eat Entrepreneur - it tastes delicious!
OTHER PICS FROM OUR TOUR DE FOOD:
The team behind The Stand
The line for Kelvin Natural Slush Co. It never got shorter.
Part of the Market Share Outpost team. Market Share Outpost is a new kitchen incubator space - we cannot wait to find out more about what they are up to!
A peek at the Asia Dog menu. Mmmmm.