Hundreds turned out to say goodbye to a Bronx institution on Oct. 28, when the Bronx Night Market officially called it quits. Admirers of the Market came to share memories after years of loyalty.
The closing follows a six-year run in the Fordham neighborhood beginning in 2017, when it was launched by former Mott Haven residents Marco Shalma and Amanda Celestino.
The loss of revenue, compounded with sanitation, maintenance and security concerns, all presented challenges for the Market, Shalma said, but he reflected on an inspiring seven-year run.
“We made a lot of small up and coming business owners that basically couldn’t really participate in the market game, because there was not a lot of opportunities,” he said. “So we immediately kind of realized, my partner and I, that this is a good opportunity to do something that’s really great.”
One Bronxite who attended the Market for the first time at the Saturday finale, underlined its value for vendors.
“It actually gives people an eye-opener,” said Vivian Rivera. “Maybe they might want to visit the restaurant and also helps out these vendors. Cause I know a lot of people struggle during the pandemic. So this also gets the word out about their restaurant and helps them build.”
Vendors like Saundra Crews from Sassy Fish Cakes, who own small businesses, have participated in other festivals as well as the Bronx Night Market. Crews, who has run a stand at the market for two years, said she found out about the closing the same way everyone else did.
“There was a newsletter, and it has also been posted on all the social media platforms,” she said.
Bronx native Kerrian Ferguson, who owns Dry Tingz, a company that uses herbs and spices, said The Night Market’s last evening was her first, but once was enough for her to hope it can return in some capacity. However, she added, the closing “gives other opportunities for something else to be birthed.”
Shalma said he is convinced that the Bronx’s version of a night market has made similar food bazaars in the other boroughs possible. Had he been asked a few weeks ago if there could be a chance for the market to return, he said, his answer he would have been no. But the enthusiasm market goers and vendors have expressed since he announced the closing has changed his mind.
“After seeing thousands of comments and positive messages and DMs and emails and text messages, of how much this meant to people, we kind of realized that we have to stay open-minded to the possibility of doing something,” he said.