In 2017 while I was in between jobs, I volunteered for SCORE for 4 months. They were excited to have me volunteer because of my Caribbean background and quickly shared that they had a mentor and location in the Flatbush Caton Market which at the time was preparing for a renovation project. I was familiar with the market because in 2016 a group of Caribbean Content creators came together to celebrate Caribbean American Heritage Month on the Plaza. Volunteering with SCORE gave me the opportunity to get a glimpse of the new plans for the market and the interim plan for the current vendors. During the renovation project, the vendors were at a temporary location which I had the opportunity to visit and pick up a few items.
Five years later, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Housing Development Corporation (HDC), BRP Companies, and Urbane have announced the opening and rebranding of Flatbush Central Caribbean Market “Flatbush Central” —formerly Flatbush Caton Market—a revitalized marketplace which has been part of the fabric of the community for more than 20 years.
Flatbush Central’s rebrand reflects the diversity of the vibrant Caribbean cultures that influence the market and fulfills the vision of the market’s founder – The Honorable Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, former NYC council member – who sponsored the market’s creation to build an institution for Caribbean people in Flatbush through the incubation of Caribbean businesses.
The new Flatbush Central offers upgraded amenities, expanded space for food vendors—inclusive of a Caribbean-themed food hall, shared commercial kitchen, bar, and lounge—and new programming to engage entrepreneurs and the broader community in building connections and celebrating the cultures of Flatbush and Central Brooklyn.
Flatbush Central will be more than just a shopping destination. It represents a central place where Caribbean culture and diaspora traditions are expressed in a shared space through commerce, food, events, myriad arts, and more. The market features a variety of small businesses that operate year-round.
What’s also exciting about the reopening is, to encourage economic mobility, a new and innovative program has been created called Mangrove™ accelerator. The goal of the incubator program is to spur community wealth opportunities to the site and to promote the growth of new and existing small local businesses. The Mangrove™ at Flatbush Central will offer access to state-of-the-art shared food and culinary, natural body care and cosmetics, new media, and textile production facilities, specifically targeting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color entrepreneurs to support the growth of their businesses. The Mangrove™ will provide direct, industry-specific technical assistance, access to capital, cohort-based business curriculum for informal and emerging businesses, respectively, as well as facilitate partnerships with larger corporate entities and institutions for business-to-business (B2B) opportunities.
Exciting Future Ahead
I’m looking forward to experiencing the new Flatbush Central market and I am very excited about the opportunities for the Caribbean American Community and the wider New York City Community to learn more about the Caribbean and the Caribbean American experience.
Flatbush Central Caribbean Marketplace is located at 2123 Caton Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11226, and open to the public Monday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
All photos courtesy of Urbane.