Over here in New York City, the vegan movement is in full swing these days and in fact, at this point, it’s probably safe to say you’d have to be living under a rock to avoid noticing it. Over the past year alone, a number of new bakeries, restaurants and retailers have been springing up one by one. The real tell-tale sign of growth is that my non-vegan friends have been hearing of vegan places and telling ME about them before I’m aware they exist! That’s something I never would have predicted when I went vegan four years ago.
These small businesses are scattered all over the five boroughs of the city, but have no fear, there is a way to find them all in one place! February 12th marked the first anniversary of the Vegan Shop-Up, which is the only all vegan pop up market in NYC. This awesome event, which is held at the all vegan bar Pine Box Rock Shop (yes, you read that correctly, an animal ingredient free bar – down to their cruelty-free Irish Car Bomb) in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, is a cruelty-free dream come true.
The pop-up market, called Vegan Shop-Up, is held every two months and was pioneered by fellow New Yorker and over-achiever, Sarah Peltier, who on top of organizing this market, juggles a day job, owns a wholesale bakery and has a summer stint as a chef. When Sarah heard last year that the New Amsterdam Market was holding a themed market for Valentine’s Day, she was so impressed with the idea that she decided to start up a vegan themed one of her own. In only a year’s time, the event is already outgrowing its space, with each one getting more crowded than the last (with both shoppers and vendors). I’ve witnessed this personally as a participant for my e-boutique Compassion Couture. It’s truly unbelievable the amount of interest and attention the event draws. People of all shapes and sizes crowd the bar, and there are points when it’s literally hard to walk from booth to booth.
After the craziness of the February 12th Valentine’s Day market subsided, I got a chance to catch up and interview Sarah to hear a little more about her and the Vegan Shop-Up:
TRACEY – What sparked the idea to start an all vegan market?
SARAH – Last February, a week before Valentine’s Day, I noticed the New Amsterdam Market was having a Valentine’s Day market. I got excited for all the themed goods, then realized I wouldn’t really be able to enjoy many of them myself. So I gathered the zany idea of creating my own. A few calls and a week later the first Shop-Up was held. It seemed only natural to have it ongoing since there is nothing else like it, and it’s quickly taken on a life of its own!
T – Vegan Shop-up just celebrated its first birthday. In the past year have you seen a growth in the number of vegan businesses in the area?
S – Absolutely! We live in such an inspiring and positive environment for small businesses, especially food, to get started and find support. It’s exciting to see people succeed at their specialty – despite the legalities and hard work.
T – Organizing the market must take a lot of work but you make it seem so easy. What are some of the challenges you face while setting it up?
S – It’s a good amount of constant tending to. Press is always on my mind to make sure the market gets good recognition each time, and with a greater audience. Arranging the layout of the market can be stressful too. We’re outgrowing the space a bit, but still have to ensure vendors are appropriately placed, requests acknowledged, and allow for a comfortable flow of foot traffic.
T – Give us a little info about yourself – what is your day job? Do you live in Brooklyn? How long have you been vegan?
S – I live in Woodside, Queens actually! I have a full time office job, my wholesale bakery, Woodside Bakehouse, and cook at Rockaway Taco during Summers. I’ve been vegan for 9 years. And a better cook for it.
T – What can we expect to see in the future from Vegan Shop-up?
S – More new vendors! Pop-ups in new and different locations! Outdoor markets! We’re growing as the vegan community cheers us on for more. And we’re always happy to collect ideas, suggestions, and fresh new products.
The next Vegan Shop-Up will be held on Sunday, April 15th and there is a rumor that because of so much interest it may be a two day event. If you are planning to be around the New York area then, definitely come check it out!
Hope this doesn’t make you too jealous but here are some close-ups of just some of what was offered for sale last week. I owe a big thank you to Danny Rico for taking these awesome pics and for letting me use them for this post.