HELP US KEEP A NIGHT MARKET IN NYC BY BACKING THIS PROJECT!
Three months ago, our first Kickstarter campaign didn't reach its goal, despite generating much advance interest in the Queens International Night Market (QINM). We scrambled -- and luckily managed -- to raise enough private funds at the last minute to enable us to launch and prove that a Night Market would be a welcome addition to the cultural landscape of NYC and Queens.
Since then, well over 30,000 people of all ages and from all backgrounds (including oodles of families) have visited the Queens International Night Market in just the past six weeks.
But, in order to keep it free to enter and uniquely affordable (for visitors and vendors), we need to raise money to bring it back in July.
Markets can serve as gateways to different cultures, and one with diverse participation can be an accessible bridge for cultural exchange. That's why QINM strives to tap into NYC's unparalleled diversity and to represent a truly international, multicultural, and inclusive affair. And Queens, as the most ethnically diverse area in the world, is, and has been, the perfect home for it.
Sure, this city has no shortage of day-time markets and one-off events, but now NYC finally has its own Night Market! Somehow we'd been trailing LA, San Fran, Chicago, Philly, Seattle, Vancouver, and Toronto... not anymore!
What: The Queens International Night Market is a large, family-friendly, open-air night market featuring over 80 independent vendors selling merchandise, art, and food, and showcasing small-scale performances and entertainment, all celebrating the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of NYC and Queens. We will grow to 100+ vendors and eventually add fun games for everyone to enjoy.
When: 6pm - Midnight on at least nine or ten more scheduled Saturdays this year, starting again on July 4th.
Where: The Night Market takes place in Queens, at the NY Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. It resonates with the legacy of the World's Fairs, and is an event where "international" and "local" truly go hand-in-hand. If we can raise enough funds, we may find additional locations to fill out gap dates when the current venue has a scheduling conflict.
THE EXPERIENCE: Finding a space in NYC to sell goods, art, or food can be prohibitively expensive. That’s why, instead of profiting off vendor fees by charging vendors an arm and a leg -- or a wing and a drumstick! -- we have been subsidizing our vendors and charging as little as one-half or one-third of what existing markets charge. We think this is the only way we can attract the diversity that truly represents the cultural and ethnic tapestry of Queens and NYC.
Have you ever wondered why 90% of the food at QINM is priced at $5 or less? This isn't by accident, but depends on our ability to continue to subsidize vendor fees. We’ve had casual street food from all over the world, including Spam musubi, takoyaki, pig parts on a stick, traditional Trinidadian shark sandwiches, Yibin fire noodles, obleas, crawfish boils, anticuchos, Burmese palatas, and so, so much more. And we will continue to curate diverse street foods (and the stories behind them) from around the world.
Another significant benefit of subsidizing vendor fees is that the majority of our food vendors (and even some of our art and merchandise vendors) are doing this for the first time. We’ve managed to encourage about 30 brand new vendors to share their stories and their food with us, and hopefully QINM will represent the first step in many more entrepreneurial stories to come.
While food vendors currently outnumber our art and merchandise vendors, we are campaigning to tip that scale so that this continues to be a thoroughly cultural event, and not just a fun place to eat. We also feature small-scale cultural performances each night -- dance and music have made the shopping and eating experience that much more enjoyable.
USE OF FUNDS: Although producing the Night Market costs well over $12,000 a night, we want to keep the Night Market admission-free and want to keep our vendor fees uniquely affordable, which allows us to impose low price caps on food offerings.
I firmly believe we will find the sponsors to support QINM's cause and mission... but until then, all Kickstarter contributions will help fund the nightly production expenses. Specifically, funds raised here will be used to help pay for the venue rental fees, which are by far our biggest expense every night. Any stretch goals will help us find a new venue for additional dates.
Every dollar we raise will help ensure that the Night Market remains free to attend and features representatives of even more of the diverse cultures and traditions that make NYC the Best.City.Ever.
THE ROAD THUS FAR: It's taken over 15 months to reach this point. I've met with countless stakeholders and politicians and negotiated with countless companies and suppliers about providing insurance, security, power rentals, lighting, medical support, sanitation, and waste removal. I’ve spent the last three months recruiting and coordinating vendors, assembling and moving tents, filling sandbags, moving light towers, moving steel barricades, assembling and moving picnic tables, pushing portapotties, and getting massively sunburnt.
I haven’t paid myself a dollar since this project began -- I plan to keep it that way until we (this really is a “we”) can prove that the Night Market represents a real opportunity for sponsors. So, PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD to help us hit our funding target, if not blow past it!
Also, send any potential vendors and performers our way… they are still the most important part of the experience, so the more the merrier!
Risks and challenges
For anyone who came to our "opening" night, you probably witnessed many of the risks and challenges we face. That night, we dealt with far more visitors (many more thousands) than we were prepared for. And far more people drove their cars than we anticipated, which contributed to traffic congestion and impacted the local residential community.
Since then, we've also dealt with a deluge of a rainstorm that forced us to close early, winds that trashed many of our tents ($$$$!), and a few malfunctioning light towers.
We are focused on attracting a critical mass of local art and merchandise vendors, and encouraging our visitors to support them, so that QINM does not just become exclusively a weekly food festival. There may also be other events or other conflicts that prevent us from featuring the ideal mix of vendors.
At the end of the day, our vendors will need to make money – this means we need attract a consistent swarm of hungry visitors and visitors with the aim to shop and eat!
And finally, while we have developed and fostered relationships with the NYPD, the FDNY, the local politicians, the local community, and other city stakeholders, there is no assurance that we won't inadvertently get caught in politics or red tape somewhere along the way.
ENDLESS THANKS AND CREDITS TO:
Each of our vendors and each of the Queens and Flushing Meadows organizations, companies, and individuals who generously donated rewards to the campaign
Kevin Clancy, for graciously producing the video on such short notice and despite my supreme awkwardness and reluctance to be on camera: http://www.kevinclancymedia.com/
IdS/R Architecture for their architectural work to date, and for any design work yet to be done for future venues.
Greg, Linda, Laure, Stephane, Yang, and Jeff, for believing in me and the project and for the financial and moral support to help the project launch.
The amazing team of dedicated and passionate volunteers, and all the others who have helped along the way to make the Night Market possible, including in no particular order: Ilana, Julia, Kyle, Sarah, Sharon, Merlin, Rena, Tom, Ricky, Chevy, Anisha, Kathy, Stanley, Maggie #1 and #2, Kerry, Lei, Brian, Charles, Storm, Peter, Roger, Tommy, and so many more whom I am sure I am forgetting.
Ken Ruan, Wing Leung, and Charles Sturges for letting me use their awesome footage and images of QINM.
Kickstarter for providing this platform to reach out to so many potential supporters, visitors, vendors, and performers.
And, of course, each of our past, current, and future backers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)