Ridgewood Social, as well as the Ridgewood Market featuring artisanal goods, were both created last year by Sarah Feldman to help Ridgewood residents find the things they need without the Manhattan prices or the bus or train ride to other neighborhoods.
Founded in June 2012 out of "boredom," Ridgewood Social is an outlet to host interesting happenings and promote Ridgewood events, while creating community and supporting local businesses.
After growing up in Houston, and then living in Manhattan for seven years, Feldman found her way to Ridgewood a year and a half ago. She was fond of the neighborhood’s quaintness, but her work schedule was preventing her from meeting people, making her feel lonely in the neighborhood.
She also jokingly acknowledged how a smidge of social anxiety - ironic for the founder of a social group - helped her conceive of the idea.
"It's like in Batman,” Feldman said. “He gets in the cage and the bats fly around, and he stands up and tries to defy his fear of bats. It's the same thing." Feldman said.
Her boyfriend gave her the extra nudge.
“I convinced her that it would be an adventure to see what and who is in the neighborhood,” said Neil Myers, co-organizer of Ridgewood Social.
Past events include a monthly book club at Norma’s Cafe, a picnic at Grover Cleveland Park, and weekly meetups at different bars.
Feldman was responsible for the first-ever Ridgewood bar crawl, which took place on November 10. Roughly 60 people patronized 10 bars starting at Cozy Corner and ending at Glenlo, located at 64-18 Fresh Pond Road.
Those who participated agreed that it brought new aspects to the neighborhood’s bars that they weren’t accustomed to.
“I had a bit of trepidation about it, as a bar crawl sounds like sort of a fraternity-type event, but it was interesting to see a lot of the local bars that are often quite quiet filled with so many people at once,” said Brandon Zwagerman.
“It's nice to meet people from the neighborhood,” said Richard Fassett. “Ridgewood has an eclectic range of bars to visit, but they tend to cater to a particular in-group. So I guess you could say it might help many people to go as a group to explore them.”
The Ridgewood Social has also served as a platform where others can become assistant organizers and post their events on their meetup page, and Feldman encourages businesses to take advantage of that opportunity.
"I'd like this to be more community driven," Feldman said. "I don’t want this to be just my thing."
Feldman has spent a lot of her time planning the Ridgewood Market, which she founded on December 1 to support local artists like herself.
It is a monthly artisan market of vendors who sell vintage items or homemade accessories, clothing, artwork, bath and body products and more. There will also be homemade food.
The first Ridgewood Market will take place on Sunday, April 14, at Gottscheer Hall, located at 657 Fairview Avenue. Starting at 11 a.m., shoppers will peruse the ballroom of vendors while sipping on alcoholic drinks.
Vendors are pretty excited about the opportunity to sell their work locally.
“It's such a great way for artists to connect with other passionate creators, and for the community to discover the gems that have been hidden,” said Sarah Serrano. “It also supports the community.”
Serrano will be selling her line Klumsy Kitten, which includes unique stuffed animals, infinity scarves, clutches, pillows and much more.
The warm weather will also bring a lineup of events hosted by Ridgewood Market, including a short story book club at Rudy’s Pastry Shop, an adult easter egg hunt, and another bar crawl.
Feldman invites Ridgewood residents to get out there, have a good time and get to know their neighborhood.
"Until you know people, you don't know much about your area,” she said. “That's really why social interaction is so important."