By Lisa Rozner

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The pandemic has made it hard for entrepreneurs to sell products in person, so Sunday, a Queens community gave local vendors a chance to shine while also helping people in need.

Candles, jewelry, pottery — they’re some of the products made by creative minds in and around Jackson Heights.

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Jon Armendariz had to get creative himself during the pandemic.

“I started selling our masks, One NYC, during the pandemic, and out of necessity, I was selling outside as a street vendor,” he told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.

But street vending is a complicated matter in New York City, where there are strict rules about licensing vendors and where you can sell.

Sunday, Armendariz and his wife, Lisa, organized the Queens pop-up market with Kaleidospace, an arts collective that creates platforms for LGBTQIA+, minority- and women-owned businesses.

“It’s just important to raise up those voices and let them shine,” volunteer Lissete Estrada said.

People like Marylen Montanez, a grandmother from Uruguay who is diving back into her passion of making pottery again for the first time since she was 17.

“For me, it’s incredible, incresible to show my art,” she said.

“I was able to find this pop-up shop and told her, ‘Grandma, you can do it,'” said Chanel Martinez, Marylen’s granddaughter.

For artist Damali Ahsaki, it’s a chance to break through the saturation of competition online.

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“My work is truly inspired by Black feminism, being a Black woman in America,” she said.

Vendors say this isn’t only good exposure for customers, but it’s also an opportunity to network.

“It feels so amazing to support each other because we’re all small businesses,” said Aaron Troy Ortega, with the Boiis Co.

Still in need are more than 200 people displaced from an eight-alarm fire in April in Jackson Heights.

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All proceeds from a raffle held at the pop-up for artwork by Queens artist Rafael Rivera went to former residents, like Adela Flores, who lost everything and is out of work.

Through a translator, she said it hurts for her to talk about it even though it’s only been a few months. She added they haven’t gotten any type of compensation, saying it’s hard and they still need a lot of help to move on.


“A lot of them are fighting to stay in the neighborhood if they can,” artist Erick Teran said.

Teran helped create QR codes to link people to an online fundraiser.

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He says while the boost to business from the pop-up is great, helping those who are less fortunate is just as important.