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We knew this day would come, but yet it hit us like a lightning bolt. We learned this week that Chelsea’s Antiques Garage on West 25th Street will close for good. According to Crain’s New York, the weekend of June 28th and 29th will be their last weekend, and the site will be developed into a hotel tower.

Long time vendors at the Antiques Garage passing the time on a leisurely Sunday

This news tugs at the heart strings of thousands of New Yorkers who have frequented this two-story shopping extravaganza, looking for a treasure at the bottom of a box.  The history of this market runs deep, going back to the 1970s and even before then when outdoor parking lots were as plentiful on a Chelsea street corner as a Starbucks is today.  The antiques garage was founded in 1976 by Alan Boss with a small group of vendors in an empty parking lot on the corner of West 25th Street and the Avenue of the Americas. This small group quickly grew to an antiques mecca of over 800 vendors.  The fee for entry back then was $2: Your hand was stamped and you were free to roam both through both lots.

Your sidewalk invitation to this two-story flea market

Once Chelsea started growing and parking lots started disappearing, Boss moved the antiques show  inside just down the block in 1994.  The smaller outdoor lot located next to the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava also on West 25th Street (east of Avenue of the Americas) continues to operate every weekend, weather permitting.

Over 100 vendors sell on two floors at the Antiques Garage

Over the years, we have come to know this market and the exact location of our favorite vendors who we have gotten to know by name.  They have been regulars at this market in the same location for years. We also recognize the regular shoppers: They are the set designers, the interior decorators, the rich, the famous and the rest of us. In fact, we would be hard pressed to find a long-time New Yorker who hasn’t come home with something from there — maybe the price is still on the bottom.

One of the Garage’s many regulars

Every weekend on tap are racks of vintage clothes, jewelry, watches, fabric, luggage, china, silver, hats–you name it.  Art, books, furniture, rugs, African artifacts, old camera’s, Christmas ornaments, tools and lots of American flags.  Nothing is left out and nothing is out of place here. In this video, you can see what goes into picking vintage photos to sell at Antiques Garage.

Luggage, lace, fabrics, and jewelry — all in one corner!

The current vendors will disperse between Mr. Boss’ other two locations: The small outdoor lot that continues to operate on West 25th Street just east of Avenue of the Americas, and the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market located on West 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues.

Google Streetview of the Antiques Garage

Above, a street view and fond farewell to The Antiques Garage.  You can follow The Antiques Garage on their website or on the Facebook page of The Hell’s Kitchen Flea.

For more in Chelsea, check the Chelsea Music Festival at the General Theological Seminary, and Chelsea’s historic Starrett-Lehigh building.

Get in touch with the author @AFineLyne

1 Comment

  1. Ian says:

    I was there on closing weekend, and had no idea that it was the final time that the location would be open. There were photographers, and camera men; I thought people were excited about the location again. Alas. There are some vendors that I will surely never see again.

    The good news is that most of the sellers have joined the parking lot market right down the street. The location has been repaved, and fenced in, which makes it less of an ankle breaker, and more secure for vendors. “Weather permitting” makes the outdoor market a little less predictable than the Garage, but at least something is left for new yorkers to enjoy!

    The Hell’s Kitchen market is still around, and a bit more commercial/touristy than the Garage. There are, however, a few estate pickers that keep the thrill of discovery and deals alive.

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