Any true New Yorker knows that no season is complete without a holiday auction, with the Flatiron District’s annual Winter Antiques Market selling everything from porcelain and crystal to objets d’art and limited-edition prints at up to 90% discount.
Since the festival dates back a mere 12 years, the offerings have grown exponentially: From a mere $400 cherry wood chess set to $175 contemporary paintings and $64,000 solid gold ice sculptures, attendees can expect everything from an inordinate number of Eiffel Tower figurines to an entire room full of 18th century horses’ heads.
Only two years have passed since the market switched from the Flatiron Plaza to the Citi Field parking lot—a decision that perhaps scared off some potential bidders—but there’s good news on the horizon: this year marks the first time that the market will actually be offered in New York’s Central Park.
“We always wanted to do the marketplace in Central Park,” Ted Genova, co-owner of brand extension Flatiron Christmasmarket, tells Thrillist. “Part of the goal is to create a romantic feel in the park—a forest of trees.” Now in its 12th year, Flatiron Christmasmarket isn’t exactly a new import: it’s been held in the same location for the better part of a decade. When the market moved to Citi Field (then called Shea Stadium) in 2008, that may have brought sales down 20%, says Genova. (Year-over-year attendance went up from 275,000 in 2009 to an estimated 350,000 in 2016.)
Still, Genova’s shop and company knew something was off in 2012, when the season kicked off in Lincoln Center. “It took us by surprise—in our first year we saw an uplift in traffic,” he recalls. “And we felt like we could do more if we had space.”
(Although Broadway shows use Lincoln Center as a backdrop for their sets, Genova admits they’ve had little contact with the city’s long-running outdoor theater. “We have them all booked up,” he says. “We come and go as needed.”)
The new location guarantees the sort of patrons who will find reason to return: Genova points to the more cerebral set of shoppers who dig through his $17,000 crystal tea set, the quirky $10,000 chocolate ornament set, and the $4,500 Alexander McQueen hang tags—unsurprisingly, since the holiday market is the New York edition of a European festival that celebrates the holiday spirit through non-traditional sources. This year’s set includes hundreds of tiny wine bottles and 12-inch-long crystal angels ($25), as well as a 28-carat gold ornament ($2,000).
Among Genova’s competitors—imagine Frederic Chausse and PBA Dees, London-based brand extension of Castleford furniture—flatironChristmasmarket.com is clearly a distinct entity. While Chausse’s December platform offers an impressive selection of classic chairs, functional lamps, and Italian-designed armchairs (courtesy of Italy’s Arcadian line), the prices are $20,000 to $25,000 and will likely require a deeper-pocketed consumer to partake.
“Most of our visitors are second-time buyers,” Genova says. “Some come back for a second visit.” However, even some of the newbies are buying with a discerning eye: Genova notes that his Baccarat lamp goes for $5,000, but only three of them exist.
You’d think a good few more would also be willing to spend that much on a single centerpiece, but customers were pleasantly surprised to find out that many Flatiron Christmasmarket antiques can be purchased for $100.
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