Sundae Market off and running

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


If you hung out in East Park of Allegheny Commons Sunday to watch the marathon runners pass, you might have also browsed the Sundae Market.

It’s spelled funny to make you think of something sweet but it was -- and will be, one Sunday a month -- a fair for starving artists and crafters on the order of the Handmade Arcade and I Made It! movement.

Sundae Market is a project of Ben Falvo, a 30-year-old web development specialist.

He initiated the first market event on the North Side to coincide with last Sunday's marathon and it was a nightmare. In spite of road closures, 11 of the 40 vendors who had signed up made it, some coming as early as 5a; others emailed and tweeted that they couldn't get anywhere near the place and gave up. The rain didn't help, Ben said. "But it is what it is; it's over, and I'm thinking about the next one."

The next is June 19, from 10a to 5p. There will be one a month through the summer. The schedule is on the web site.

As the result of answering a request for proposals from the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, he held a spring and fall Sundae Market in Schenley Plaza in Oakland two years ago and had as many as 270 vendors.

“I hadn’t done one since 2009, and people kept asking me, ‘When’s the next Sundae?’” he said.

He expects more than 40 for subsequent market dates in East Park.

He chose the setting because, he said, "I have a passion for the North Side and thought this would be a good way to get more people circulating through this beautiful park."

A native Pittsburgher, Ben divides his time between here and Brooklyn as the principal of the Dream Store, a web development and marketing company. He unwittingly started this sideline business, from which he has made almost no profit, by holding a roller skating party for a bunch of friends that turned into a phenomenon of thousands now held in several cities.

For Sundae Market, he takes no commission. “I want them [new hungry artists] to get out there in the world. If sponsors want to hop on board, that’s fine.”

On Marathon Sundae, the fair got a grant from the marathon committee and he has a sponsorship from First Niagara Bank but the majority of the money comes from his pockets, he said.

Events like this “help grow the culture of a city. There’s a lot of programming for sports and other big things but not a lot of things for the small guy.”

I will write more about Sundae Market in an article for the magazine section of the P-G. Stay posted!

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