Atlantic’s Antique Row Heading Towards Obsolescence?

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The string of antique shops lining Atlantic Avenue between Hoyt and Bond is becoming a thing of the past. Yul Vilbaum Antiques, near the corner of Hoyt, recently shuttered, and it’ll soon be replaced by a Steven Alan boutique. By the end of this month, Boerum Hill Restoration—known for its selection of old-school office furniture—will shut down its retail arm at 375 Atlantic. Two doors down, Repeat Performance‘s owner is retiring and closing his 29-year-old shop. Meanwhile, the biggest store on the strip, Horseman Antiques, has been threatening to go out of business for a long time; Horseman’s owner is trying to sell the building. Norman Benjamin, the owner of Boerum Hill Restoration, says his store and others are closing or have closed because of shifting consumer tastes and the “upscaling” of the neighborhood. “Twenty years ago, every address on the block was an antique store,” says Benjamin, who opened his store in 1979 and will continue to operate a restoration business out of the back of 375 Atlantic. “There were easily 30 of them.” Benjamin notes that most of the stores carried Victorian or turn-of-the-century antiques, which he believes have fallen out of favor with many consumers who now look for mid-century pieces. About 10 antique stores still remain on the street, and Benjamin thinks there will always be vestiges of the old district even though it’s not considered a destination retail strip in the way it once was. “In the late ’70s and early ’80s, it had such a following,” he says. “People would say, ‘Let’s go to Atlantic Avenue this weekend,’ and when they were here, they’d ask us if there was a coffee shop nearby, and we had nowhere to send them. Now there are wine bars, clubs, and restaurants. Very high-end stores are no longer afraid to come to this neighborhood.” GMAP

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