Billy's Antiques & Props, the tented store on Houston Street, closed earlier this month. I never bought anything there - I had no real need of Santa statues, subway signs, old medical books, rotary telephones, Buddhist statues, funky end tables, movie posters, or stuffed animals (of the taxidermy persuasion).
But I loved to look at all that junk. The bulk of it was housed under a giant green tent covering the lot, but if you were to wander past you'd see a selection of the oddities spilling out onto the sidewalk, with people milling about, shootin' the breeze. (I just love the sight of strangers chatting.)
It was weird, it was unique, it was independently owned. It was the kind of place that made me love this city. New York is increasingly becoming a town with commercial rents so high that only chain stores, national banks, and shiny high-rise condo buildings can afford to move in. Billy's was Old New York, a relic of a bygone era that seemed more...colorful. At least in my imagination.
Although sad that Billy's is no more, you gotta love the way it went out: with a proper funeral (complete with a coffin, where the green tent was laid to rest), dirges sung and memories shared.
|The coffin, still on the lot as of last week|
The Times has a sweet piece on the loss of Billy's. One of the funeral attendees is quoted as saying:
“It was like a museum...A museum of madness and beauty.”Love that. 'Bye, Billy.