Chelsea's Antiques Garage to Stay Open — for Now

By Mathew Katz on August 25, 2011 10:41am 

A collection of old photography equipment on sale at Antiques Garage. The weekend market could be closed with only two weeks' notice.
A collection of old photography equipment on sale at Antiques Garage. The weekend market could be closed with only two weeks' notice.
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flickr/Jennifer Martinez

CHELSEA — Antiques Garage, the long-running weekend market in Chelsea will remain open for now, but could be kicked out of its existing location with just two weeks' notice.

The operators of the market inked out an 11th-hour deal last week to keep it going. Antiques Garage's last day was originally set to be this Sunday.

The building's owners, Extell Development, will allow the antiques bazaar to continue to operate on a month-to-month basis, though that agreement can be canceled with only two weeks' notice.

The market has been operating out of a three-story parking at 112 W. 25th St. since it was founded in 1993. It hosts more than 100 vendors, who pay roughly $250 to $300 to set up shop every weekend.

"I guess that for now, we're okay," said Alan Boss, the market's founder. "Times change. It's inevitable. This is New York."

Extell bought the complex in 2006 for $42.7 million. They've been pushing to build a hotel at the site for several years, but could not say when they would begin development on it.

“Extell has had an amicable relationship with Alan Boss and the Antiques Garage," said George Arzt, a spokesman for Extell. "Our plans and timetable for the site are not complete at this time.”

Boss said that he's looking for a new space for Antiques Garage, likely in a nearby parking building. But he admits that Chelsea's real estate landscape isn't the same as it was in 1993.

"It’s difficult to find space you’re only going to use for the weekend, when you have to pay rent seven days a week," he said.

Vendors will have the option of moving to one of Boss' two outdoor flea markets nearby, either the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market on West 39th Street or the West 25th Street Market. Rents are cheaper at the outdoor markets, but they do expose a dealer's wares to the elements.

Arby Rolband has been dealing old prints and books at the market since it opened, and before that sold his goods at the outdoor market that preceded Antiques Garage. He said he doesn't see his business changing too much.

"It takes a certain effort to walk into the garage, it's almost a destination for people," he said. "But when you're outside people are just walking by — so you can get a casual buyer."

Still, Rolband admits that the city needs an indoor antiques market, and that many other world-class cities have one. His wares are delicate, and on certain inclement days could use the protection of the garage.

"It's nice to have it outside, but it's also something they really should be able to find an indoor location for," he said. "We would like to have the option to have another roof over our heads."

With the garage's fate up in the air, Boss is still searching for an affordable alternative, though he won't be looking in the outer boroughs, where other flea markets have found success.

"Dyed in the wool people who deal in antiques come to Manhattan to do it. Tourists come to Manhattan. It's a big part of the business," he said.

"I'll never look outside of Manhattan."

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