In a place like New York, it’s easy to assume all the best spots have already been discovered. There are few places un-treaded by cool-seeking city slickers, especially those who dwell in Brooklyn. One of the last rocks to be turned over is a neighborhood called Red Hook with a surprisingly small town feel. More than a mile away from the closest train stop, it’s off most people’s beating path. For a good while, the only solid reason to visit Red Hook used to be IKEA — now, there’s one more: it’s a humble little shop called Wooden Sleepers.
I feel guilty saying this, but I stumbled upon the shop last weekend on a voyage for IKEA’s unbeatably cheap outdoor furniture. The “Wooden Sleepers” sign caught my eye and I was immediately engulfed in vintage heaven. Folded deadstock t-shirts sit next to rows of boots and rolled-up wool blankets. Enough vintage swag and antique ephemera fill the walls and worn-in wooden fixtures to keep me interested for days. Honestly, I was surprised I’d never heard of the place.
After sitting down with shop owner Brian Davis, his humble operation becomes all the more clear. After finding his apartment literally consumed by boxes of vintage clothing, he opened a shared showroom in Greenpoint, Brooklyn where friends, bloggers and whoever else caught wind would stop in to shop. Davis quickly outgrew the space and opted to move to his bubbling operation to Red Hook to build out his dream space. While working a full-time day job, Davis would shop for furniture and lighting fixtures on weekends. Everything in the space has been considered from the antique garment racks to the lovingly worn in wooden cabinets. After a few months of DIY grit, Davis opened shop in the fall of last year and has been quietly growing by word of mouth.
“People really come to us for the edit,” says Davis. Certainly, Wooden Sleepers is one of the best merchandized vintage spots I’ve ever entered. Although I’ve seen some damn good stuff here in New York, most spots are spilling over with product — frankly, with things I don’t want to dig through. But Wooden Sleepers presents vintage very much in the same way an upper level men’s shop would present its designer brands. The selection is tight; only the best makes it to the rack. And, unlike most shops, Wooden Sleepers offers a full size run in most of the styles they carry. You can expect to find tweed jackets from the 1950s, Lee denim jackets, and old goods from L.L.Bean, Champion, Patagonia and Levi’s, to name a few.
While may vintage heads live for the thrill of the “find,” I loved the idea that everything I picked up was an ace garment. It was tough not to walk out with a full vintage get-up. If you’re looking for a weekend adventure, head to Red Hook.
416 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231