A designer of guitars for Hard Rock Cafés worldwide. An interior decorator partnered with a fashion designer. A woman who used to dress up as a Jewish grandma to deliver bagels for a living. These are just a few of the unusual people selling antiques and vintage clothing at the Blue Barn Marketplace in Shandaken. Owner and realtor Faye Storms says they represent a trend among home-buyers moving north from New York City.
“These are creative people who think outside the box,” said Storms, who also serves on the Shandaken town board. “Our area attracts a special kind of person. They need moxie because the services aren’t right here, like they are in Kingston. They have to be not afraid to be alone.”
She has sold homes to publishers, writers, film directors, producers, and artists. Among her most creative clients are the sellers at the Blue Barn, previously Storms’ interior design studio, where she is now renting space to 13 vendors at affordable prices. Dealers get a discount if they work in the store one to three days a week, while Storms hires an employee to supervise when no one else is on duty, so vendors don’t have to babysit their wares.
The pickings at the Blue Barn are as diverse as the sellers. Among Adrienne Gusoff’s vintage clothes are dresses she wore when, in costume as a yenta, she delivered get-well chicken soup or birthday bagels for Bubbiegrams, at a substantial price. “I had stocking boobs hanging down to my waist, a fat suit, roll-up stockings with varicose veins painted on, rubber rain boots,” she said. “I delivered to Gina Lollabrigida and to Baron de Rothschild. He was delightful. He had an apartment on Park Avenue with a huge kitchen, with three subzero fridges. When I delivered to the head of CBS Records, I was in between meetings with Mick Jagger and Paul Simon.”
One day she was sent to Donald Trump by an associate, “a lawyer or broker or someone,” she recalled. She had to wait 45 minutes in an outer office with her delivery of bagels, “schvitzing like a lawn sprinkler in my fat suit. When I finally went in, he looked at me like someone had left dog shit on his floor. He’s got a germ thing, and I was not a pretty young babe, especially in that outfit. I was so traumatized.”
Two months after Gusoff met her husband, Michael, they set off for Uzbekistan and Turkey. Since then, they have traveled extensively, bringing back such finds as Moroccan silk and 1970s Kashimiri crewelwork, now on sale alongside items their friend Jan Albert has gleaned from her own journeys. Albert’s husband, Dick, was the proprietor of Tek-Serv, the famous Manhattan computer repair shop, which had a basement filled with his collection of antique cameras, TVs, radios, and Victrolas. Since the store closed last summer, several cameras have made their way onto the shelves at the barn.
Also available are furniture pieces made by Michael, a carpenter and contractor who has renovated an apartment for Jon Stewart and made custom furniture for Robert Redford, Placido Domingo, and Lauren Bacall. He’s currently updating a triple-wide brownstone for the Prince of Qatar. Michael is a photographer as well, and the shop carries copies of his book of fine art nude photography and Adrienne’s book, Dirty Yiddish Slang.
Doris Nieves and Frank Spina call their shop Hasbin’s & Willbey’s, as they pass on items from their respective collections of high-end decorative pieces. The two are good friends and have similar tastes, said Nieves, “and we never fight.” Spina used to design evening wear and bridesmaid dresses, while Nieves was an interior decorator, so both make purchases with an artistic eye. Nieves also leads Zumba classes in Phoenicia.
Like other vendors at the barn, they offer their merchandise at rates way below New York City prices. Spina showed off a 19th-century Turkish vest, embroidered with metallic thread and priced at $135, a third of what a Manhattan shop would typically charge, he says. Among the linens, furniture, lamps, and other furnishings are unusual items such as wooden Japanese geta platform sandals; a massive studded dog collar from Rhinebeck, circa 1880, with the dog’s name (“JIM”) engraved on a brass plaque; and an incredibly realistic alabaster apple with a bite taken out of it.
Along one wall of the shop is a maple table Nieves found locally and decided to bargain for. “The tag said two-fifty, so I asked the woman if she’d take one-twenty-five,” said Nieves. “She was outraged. ‘You want to cut me down to a dollar twenty-five?’ So I offered her three dollars and bought the table.” It’s now on sale for an affordable $100.
Keira Guip Sixtus is a multimedia artist who designs the guitars given out annually as corporate awards to Hard Rock Café venues. “For the Amsterdam café, I had to make a guitar that looked like a windmill,” said Guip. “For Memphis, the guitar had to look like Elvis.”
Formerly a jeweler for Robert Lee Morris, Guip has also designed stained glass signs for the Bowery Ballroom and for Levon Helm’s studio. Her left hand is presently painted with an intricate henna pattern. “I did it while I was watching TV,” said Guip. Originally from Pittsburgh, she is a full-time Woodstock resident.
She started collecting vintage clothing as a teenager. “I had more than I could wear, so I started selling them a few years ago,” she explained. She holds out a 1950s prom gown, gauzy with white tulle. Other racks are resplendent with Japanese kimonos, vintage saris, Chinese dresses and quilted jackets. “I love the colors and the fabrics,” she remarked, “and the ways clothes used to be made. They’re so well-made and fun. I wore these clothes in art school, but now I wear stuff that’s relaxing, like cargo pants.” ++
The Blue Barn Marketplace is located at 7053 Route 28, Shandaken, a few miles west of Phoenicia. The shops are open in the afternoon, Friday through Monday. For more information, see https://www.facebook.com/bluebarnmarketplace.