The story of the Antiques Garage dates back to the days of the weekend Annex outdoor lots on 6th Avenue in Chelsea. In the shadow of the Empire State Building the thriving outdoor flea market welcomed thousands of residents and tourists each weekend.
But in December of 1993 Alan Boss seized the opportunity to sublease for weekend use a two-story parking garage located on West 25th Street. It changed the script for conventional flea markets in New York City. This additional market would be indoors providing protection against inclement and winter weather for vendors with prints, maps, ephemera, and otherdelicate merchandise.
With a solid group of interested vendors on board and Alan Boss’s strong legacy of antiques and collectibles, this market became another haven for some of the city’s finest antiques and was named, naturally, the Antiques Garage.
In February of 1994 the market opened its doors. An opening party to commemorate the event was documented by New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, who was a regular at the 6th Avenue market, having once remarked, “This place makes style!”
Initially, the Antiques Garage attracted die-hard antique collectors and antique store owners in search of one-of-a-kind merchandise. But the public was still resistant to coming inside. With the outdoor market still thriving on 6th Avenue, they needed to be drawn in.
“I started giving out free coffee to the public to try and entice people to come into the Garage,” Alan recollects. Free coffee and word of mouth clearly helped. In time the Antiques Garage was put on the global map as the go-to indoor antiques and flea market in New York City.
The market grew and evolved into a distinctive subculture attracting many regulars to socialize. “After closing hours I noticed that many of the vendors and people that frequented the markets didn’t come outside,” said Alan. “It became a ‘mystical culture' built on old merchandise and one-of-a-kind stuff.
Both the Antiques Garage and the outdoor 6th Avenue flea market stood intact until the outdoor market closed in the end of August of 2005. With its closure even more people started coming to the Garage as their go-to market in Chelsea, and it continued to thrive.
Alan observed, “The Garage was always a place to do business despite the economy. Once it became a more global economy, it became less so.”
Despite impending threats from the landlord to sell the property for good, the Antiques Garage thrived in Chelsea for 20 years. It wasn’t until late June 2014 that it officially closed its doors for the last time. The headlines said it all, “The Antiques Garage was closing for good.” The looming threats had come to pass and the property was sold to build a high rise hotel.
With two decades in New York City, the Antiques Garage thrived in the midst of the rise and fall of the economy and left behind a legacy and a culture that will be remembered for decades to come. Although its exact culture can’t be replicated the life blood of the Antiques Garage lives on through the outdoor markets in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.