On St. Marks, Junk Replaces Dreams

Junk on St. Marks PlaceSuzanne Rozdeba Junk, 102 St. Marks Place.

James De La Vega’s funky museum art store has been replaced by Junk.

Amy Sidney, took over the St. Marks Place store as a space to sell her collection of things tossed aside. She calls herself a gatherer of memories, of stories behind the items she personally picks to sell. She calls her thrift store Junk.

The store’s name was created on a simple rule of marketing.

“I studied marketing, and the rule was the acronym KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. You have two or three seconds to catch someone’s eye. Eve and I came up with ‘Junk.’ We thought, ‘What a great name,’” laughed Mrs. Sidney. The store’s rent and overhead cost come to $8,000 a month.

Mrs. Sidney and her partner Eve Savva decided to try their hand at running a thrift store — the store officially opened on Oct. 1. — when Mr. De La Vega, who subleased the space from Mrs. Sidney, moved out.

“Musicians, artists, and students appreciate what De La Vega did,” said Mrs. Sidney. “A lot of people come in asking where he went. His freshness, people were attracted to it. There was a sense of humor to his art. I think people will follow him wherever he goes.”

Mr. De La Vega, whose former space was adorned with his slogan “Become Your Dream,” has said that he plans to open another museum in the city but he has provided few specifics.

The items for sale at Junk are from friends and acquaintances of Mrs. Sidney and Ms. Savva — some are donations — and from department stores that sell them the items at a major discount.

Belt buckles with skulls, colorful handbags, shoes, designer scarves, dresses from the ’50s, and jeans and T-shirts are neatly piled around the store. All the items sell for anywhere between $5 and $50. The women inspect each item and have them washed or dry cleaned before selling them.

A Hermes scarf recently sold for $5, and a perfectly-preserved Louis Vuitton satchel, once owned by Ms. Savva, sold for $50.

Junk owner Amy SidneySuzanne Rozdeba Amy Sidney, the owner of Junk, shows off some of the store’s wares.

“A girl bought a shirt with all these ruffles. It looked like something Prince would have worn at a concert. She came back three days later, and said, ‘I had the greatest date of my life, and then I went on a job interview and I got the job because of this shirt.’ She hugged me,’” said Mrs. Sidney. “It was $10 and it changed her life.”

A group of girls came in earlier in the week and bought Jordache sweaters for an ugly sweater party. “I thought it was hilarious,” Mrs. Sidney said. “They were true vintage.”

“There was a pair of boots that belonged to my husband, who passed away. He wore them maybe twice and they were once worth about $240,” said Ms. Savva. “This student came in, and I knew he couldn’t afford the boots. So I said, ‘Do you promise to give them a good home and wear out the soles?’ He promised, so I gave them to him for $25.”

The women hope enough people will take interest in their unique items to keep the store running. “We’ll keep this going for as long as we can,” said Mrs. Sidney. “People are uninhibited here. People know each other here. There’s something magnetic about this neighborhood and this block.”

Junk, 102 St. Marks Place (between First Avenue and Avenue A)