Calling All Antique Freaks

Natalie Chinn
Storefront of Obscura Antiques and Oddities, featuring a taxidermied rabbit. Located in the East Village, Obscura is one of several unique antique stores around NYU.

An hour in an antique shop is like a day at the amusement park for those who appreciate treasures from the past. New York City is dotted with these stores, many of which carry items over a hundred years old.

Antiques are great for adding character and charm to a room. Although antique stores often focus on expensive, old fashioned furniture, there are plenty of small trinkets and oddities you can purchase to bring life to a blank wall or an empty shelf. From clouded mirrors and dainty china sets to long lost love letters and framed artwork, antiquing is a great way to spice up your aesthetic.

One of the most interesting antique stores in Manhattan is not too far from NYU. Obscura Antiques and Oddities is located in the East Village, near Stuyvesant Town. This quirky store, which opened in 1991, was once the focal point of the television show “Oddities,” which featured store owners Mike Zohn and Evan Michelson. With a focus on freaky and unusual antiques, Obscura is the place to find old medical instruments, taxidermied animals, dolls and mummified heads. If you choose to visit, make sure to open every drawer and cabinet door, as there’s a surprise in every nook and cranny.

While dead animals aren’t the most desirable decorations, architectural salvage is a cool, funky way to bring texture and dimension to a space. Olde Good Things, which has three New York City locations, specializes in rescued architectural pieces. Their collection, which started in 1995, includes unique items such as tin mirrors and panels, wrought iron fixtures, and ornate vanity accessories. As one of the country’s largest architectural antique dealers, Olde Good Things offers a wide range of unexpectedly beautiful artifacts and is the perfect place to find a new treasure.

For small, quirky decorations, head to Authentiques in Chelsea. Authentiques, which has been open since 1976, is packed from floor to ceiling with both gadgets long forgotten and toys our parents grew up with. The store has found the best balance between old and new things, making it a space anyone could lose themselves in. Customers love the shop’s collection of glassware and lamps, as well as their Christmas ornaments, which are sold year round. Authentiques updates its merchandise for the holidays, so there’s always a reason to visit.

It’s no secret that antique stores are ridiculously expensive. While it’s possible to find some steals at Authentiques, stores like Demolition Depot are likely out of a college student’s price range. However, this doesn’t make these stores any less interesting. After all, looking is free. Demolition Depot is an extravagant four story maze, filled with alluring heirlooms and delicate ornamentation. It’s the ideal store to spend an afternoon in, exploring every corner and dreaming of the perfectly decorated home. Situated in East Harlem, the depot is a great reason to make an excursion uptown. If you’re still not convinced, the store has a few resident cats, so it’ll definitely be worth the trip.

Antiquing is something that takes patience and time, especially when you’re on the hunt for something specific, like a Victorian clock or glass cigarette tray. But even if you’re not looking to decorate your room, antique stores are fun places to wander around with your friends and find inspiration.

Email Natalie Chinn at [email protected].

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