Steps away from the onetime antique store haven along Atlantic Avenue, the family-owned shop Holler & Squall has been selling a quirky collection of furniture and accessories since 2009. Each item has been thoughtfully selected by the shop’s owners, Gillette and Zak Wing.
“We’ve always just bought what we liked,” Gillette said. “We try to have small stuff that is $5 on the shelf. And on the shelf right now there are amateur paintings that are between $45 and $75. And probably the most expensive thing in the store right now is a chair for $2,000.”
The couple, along with their two young sons, comb estate sales and auctions looking for the perfect antique and vintage pieces to load into their van. Some pieces go directly into the 700-square-foot shop on Henry, and the rest into storage. New items are rotated into the store regularly.
“I want it to be a place where people feel comfortable enough to come in and look and enjoy being in there without feeling pressure to purchase anything,” Gillette said. “That’s the wonderful thing about having a mom-and-pop. It’s ever changing. We really do try to switch everything up every week, so for someone who’s a regular in the neighborhood, it’s not boring.”
Loyal customers and a love for the neighborhood have kept them in Brooklyn Heights, even after the family relocated from Bed Stuy to Kingston in upstate New York three years ago. The boys, ages 6 and 8, are homeschooled. Gillette and Zak often alternate weekends tending to the store, which is open Fridays from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Mostly, we got priced out, and we had to decide if we wanted to continue to have our business,” Gillette said. “We were already 45 minutes away in Brooklyn on a good traffic day. And we were in a basement apartment with two kids. It didn’t make sense. And our kids got to school age as well, so a lot of things played into it. And the dream of upstate was also extremely appealing — like a New Yorker fantasy.”
Their Kingston home is decorated with a combination of store rejects and family heirlooms. Gillette’s father and two grandmothers were antiques dealers who passed on a love of old furniture and a knack for finding the right piece.
“I think it’s just a game of patience,” she said. “If you really don’t want to buy from a big box store, it really takes a while to find the right thing, even for us. We have droughts where we can’t find anything to buy.”
To expand their business, the couple purchased three adjoining commercial condos on Atlantic Avenue and Henry Street in 2014. The store used to occupy two of the combined spaces, but was consolidated into one in September. The Wings now lease two of the properties for additional income, and have cut back store hours to lower expenses and give them more time for buying. Meanwhile, sales through Instagram have made it easier for clients to reach them seven days a week.
Though her family has put down roots in Kingston, Gillette laments the dearth of antique stores along the Atlantic Avenue corridor.
“It’s sad because it’s not just antique stores going away, it’s small businesses. The vacancies feel like they overtake entire blocks,” Gillette said. “It’s part of what I feel like I’d grown to love about Brooklyn — there was space for all of these strange businesses.”
[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]
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