In a neighborhood already charmed by a century-old bake shop, never-ending canine commodities, and an elderly couple who people-watches from the seats of their walker’s each afternoon an unsuspecting window completely crammed with junk can easily go unnoticed. The only thing indicative of a small shop is a sign on the door with a phone number for inquiries and pick-ups, but this neighborhood knows to return after dark for treasure hunting.
Here what resembles the closet in the guest room or the cubby under the stairs packed with family belongings that are too significant to trash or sell, but too random or outdated to find use for, is the collection of just that from the local community. For decades neighbors have been dropping such items off where they can be gazed at in the window, unexpectedly discovered, or collected by someone who will honor their meanings. The treasures have sustained this building through generations and fascinate passersby who can rarely walk on without dropping in.
The trinket shop began in traditional yard sale fashion and has become a glorified thrift and antique combo shop after years of contributions and advances in renovations. The little store’s lack of structure or organization adds to the attic-full-of-your-entire-past feel. There are no clerks or cash register’s, sales or advertisements, just the young couple who’ve been entrusted guardianship and are typically revamping donations in the back. One has to squeeze and carefully maneuver about, but the atmosphere is relaxed and accompanied by indie rock background tunes.
It’s hard to describe the offerings as often as they change, but I’ve seen anything from an old-fashioned baby carriage, to a vintage trunk, to china sets, records, lamps, art, sunglasses, hats, picture frames, ornaments, CDs, jewelry, furniture and books. The assortment could safely be categorized as trinkets, thus after a night of brainstorming names for our favorite spur of the moment stop, Katie and I began calling it the trinket shop.
This is not the kind of trip one plans. Going in search of something in particular would inevitably disappoint. These are the things you stumble upon, the place you look when you don’t know what you have in mind. The collection’s intended to surprise; it’s a bunch of needles in a haystack and diamonds in the rough. The point of visiting is the process: searching, digging, exploring for something you don’t need at all, but can’t live without. [Note: I’ve found in some cases involving money, you can in fact live without that perfect trinket find, but you will keep looking for a pseudo-version, and trinkets aren’t mass produced. There are no knock-offs.]
Next time you’re up in the 80’s, presumably out to eat or bar hopping on 2nd Ave, and you have time to wander over to First, look for the little store that’s lit and overflowing with junk. The trinkets are as unique as this shop’s style and the charm of the permanent garage sale is irresistible once you’ve glanced inside. You might just find exactly what you weren’t looking for.