A holiday market for the oddball on your list is coming to Greenpoint
For those who find the typical holiday market a little vanilla, collector and self-professed weirdo Ryan Cohn may have the antidote. Cohn’s Oddities Flea Market is bringing a “Holiday of Wonders” event to Greenpoint this weekend, with more than 100 vendors offering a wide inventory of odd objects, from taxidermic critters and anatomical curiosities, to unconventional jewelry and unusual artwork.
Cohn, an artist, osteologist (that’s a bone expert) and star of the Discovery Channel docu-series “Oddities,” curates the market along with his wife and executive producer Regina Cohn. The couple started hosting the market in 2016 after the Morbid Anatomy museum in Gowanus shuttered abruptly, leaving the venue’s oddities dealers and the subculture that formed around them with nowhere to go in Brooklyn.
Citywide, the oddities community is “in serious need of reviving,” according to Cohn. “There’s really nothing here. All the institutions that used to exist have closed down,” he said.
Cohn says the weekend flea markets in Chelsea he frequented in his 20s are now largely gone, thanks to rising rents pricing out small time dealers in odd ephemera and antiques in general. He cited the spike in commercial rents for novelty shops on the Coney Island Boardwalk as a recent example of the decades-long trend.
“It’s not a huge surprise, but it’s really sad, and it’s kind of why we started doing this in the first place,” said Cohn. “We said, well, we’ve got to do something because we were very much a part of that scene.”
Visitors to this weekend’s holiday market, Cohn’s largest market to date, can view items like skulls and death masks, antique medical devices and outdated anatomical renderings, as well as more run-of-the-mill gifts for the goth on their list. VIP ticket holders will get early entry to the market (and first dibs on the oddest items), as well as access to a lounge with entertainment from Suitcase of Wonders, a mini magic show.
The market is a family friendly event, with free admission for kids under 10. Cohn says the macabre merchandise can actually spark important conversations.
“It’s really fun to see kids come through some of these booths and go, ‘What is this, mom?’ and then the mother will explain why the cat is dead and for sale on a table,” he said. “It’s a good chance for parents to learn how to explain that to their toddlers.”
For those who prefer live animals, Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue will be onsite with adoptable dogs. A portion of the market’s proceeds will benefit the nonprofit.
Cohn would like to provide new avenues for lovers of oddities to come together in the future. He’s even considered hosting an oddities dating event.
“There’ve been people that met at our markets who got married,” he said. “It’s great to see this stuff. It very much is this community of outsiders that get together in this cool safe space.”
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