For many, the Ridgewood Market craft and artisan fair at Gottscheer Hall, 657 Fairview Ave., has brought an old-fashioned vibe to the season and provided a place for local businesses to network.
For the last year, Maspeth native Rich Castagna has run the Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, a nano-scale microbrewery on Fresh Pond Road, and said setting up in markets like Ridgewood Market has helped expand his business.
“It’s necessary to let people know that I’m here,” Castagna said. “This is the one venue I’ve been able to do that because I’ve just been selling to bars and growler-filling stores.”
He added that he plans to expand his business in the near future, but wants to see the neighborhoods themselves grow.
“Ridgewood, Maspeth and Glendale, for whatever reason, I’ve always thought of as the ‘middle kingdom,’” he said. “It needs more stuff like this. To see all these artisanal items, it shows that the neighborhood is changing.”
Sarah Feldman founded the Ridgewood Market, as well as Ridgewood Social, a networking group to help businesses connect in the community, to re-create the vending she used experience at Union Square when she was in college.
“We have to make sure that they’re determined,” Feldman said. “You may have good stuff, but if you’re not a sport we can’t have you here because it will bring negative vibes.”
Originally from Texas, Feldman came to New York for school. After graduating from Parsons University in Manhattan, she said she was having a hard time socializing herself after moving to Ridgewood with her boyfriend.
“It’s very old school, so a lot of young people are moving here and they don’t know what to do,” Feldman said of the Ridgewood neighborhood.
Nearly 50 businesses were set up in the recreation space at the nearly 90-year-old Gottscheer Hall on Sunday, Dec. 8 to take part in the holiday festivities.
Tia Meilinger, owner of Vaya Bags, sold her handmade purses and bags for the first time at the market, and said she was happy with the turnout.
“It’s a really great way to connect with the community, so I get to interact and meet new people,” Meilinger said.
Elfriede Parthe Sommer, vice president and manager of Gottscheer Hall, said she has been lucky to have met Feldman.
“We cater to the community,” Parthe Summer said. “We try to make sure that every person leaves here with a positive attitude.
She added that the Ridgewood Market has brought new life to the building and spread the word about their bowling club, dance groups, concerts and dozens of other functions.
“It has brought more people here, they see the facility and I’ve been able to book some parties from that,” she explained. “It’s great that they know that it’s here for the community.”
The Ridgewood Market continues once again next Sunday, Dec. 15, at Gottscheer Hall from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.