Quickly Greg and Rudy realized also that while street vending works, community marketplaces are much more efficient in drawing customers and much more predictable, if not comfortable. Because a marketplace has the ability to hold many kinds of vendors for a whole variety of products, these shopping venues also have the ability to induce people to purchase other things they may have not intended to pick up in the first place. Seeing the same vendors tending their booths also sparked camaraderie among them. Most of the participants were also artists involved in other things. Almost all of them are creators. In other words, they are not salespeople who show up simply to sell.
“As creators we (all) have had to find creative solutions to our own problems,” says Rudy. For us, “we can’t depend on patrons. We can’t depend on record labels. We can’t depend on outside forces to shape our careers,” he adds. Other vendors, too, in whatever industry they are in have had to find other ways to supplement their income or to bolster their business. If that meant selling their products in a marketplace or on the street, so be it.
Greg observes, “Those people who bitch about how it can’t be done, how technology is destroying everything. That’s bullshit.” Both suggest that it is up to an artist to find a way to express himself or herself in some other ways that provide income while still maintaining who they are.
Thus nowadays you frequently find singer/songwriters for example who are voice coaches, music teachers, yoga instructors, jingle writers, etc. And that isn’t relegated only to musicians. In New York City and Los Angeles, actors and models are often fitness trainers, choreographers may be dance instructors at gyms. It appears that almost no one in the arts does only one thing.
This is different from actors or singers who previously moonlighted as waiters and bartenders so they could go on auditions during the day. Artists are finding alternate things to do, not necessarily temporarily but as another parallel career. After all, if the ones who did make it now have fashion lines, perfume and
other secondary businesses, why can’t those who are still struggling day to day explore other opportunities as well? And they are the ones who could really use the secondary income now.
“If the classic rock and roller had no set path to get where they were going before, now it’s gotten more fucked,” Greg bluntly surmises. “Guns ‘N Roses is dead, that model is dead. You can’t just say ‘I just want to play some music.’ If you want to rock, you must also be something else.”
This is why all members of The Bushwick Hotel are now multi-disciplinarians. “We have a member that does marketing, graphics, sells maps and plays bass. What we have done is we’ve created a more powerful organization.”
That organization comes in handy as they pull together a weekly Rock ‘n Shop, Bushwick’s first alternative mall. Originally a pop-up as a response to the closing of the Brooklyn Flea Market, every weekend The Bushwick Hotel transforms The Paper Box, one of Bushwick’s largest music venues, into a truly unique Brooklyn shopping, culinary, and entertainment experience. With up to seven free all ages matinee shows, attendees can spend the day enjoying delicious food and drinks, shopping for art, crafts, apparel, jewelry, accessories, records, or get a tattoo, a haircut and even a beard trim.
Rudy points out, “Because people can just buy anything online and don’t have to leave the house, we have to give them something more than that, we have to give them something different than just going out to shop. The things you’re going to look at there, you’re not going to find online because the person you’re getting it from makes those things, things that are unique.”
“Think of it as a community center,” offers Greg. “We created it to be for everyone. The booths are adequately priced on purpose because we wanted to attract a feeling of brotherhood between the vendors.” They believe this feeling of connectedness filters out to patrons and visitors who come.
“For us, it’s such an amazing thing,” Rudy adds excitedly. “It’s just incredible. There’s so many people. So many people are involved, and so many people who can benefit from it….a whole lot of people just having fun.”