The Best of Brooklyn – Williamsburg, Part 1: The Northside


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Bedford L train

The Bedford Ave stop on the L train marks the epicenter of the action in Brooklyn's most happening neighborhood. All photos by Brooke Williams.

If Brooklyn is the most happening part of New York City right now and we think of it like a university, Williamsburg, a neighborhood which sits at the borough’s north end, is the center of the undergraduate college campus. Divided into two sides (the North and the South) this area has undergone a massive transformation in the past 15 years. [Which many of us here at Krrb have witnessed first hand, as long time area residents.] What was once a largely industrial landscape spotted with modest housing for the immigrants who worked in its factories has now become an eclectic mix of renovated luxury loft buildings, art galleries, shops and eateries all geared toward the artistic, music-loving, vintage-clothes-wearing hipsters that now populate the local streets.

If you’re visiting the Northside of Williamsburg (between McCarren Park and Grand Street) we hope you’re into fashion, because this hood has one of the most concentrated sets of vintage clothing shops (for both men & women) in the entire city. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Books, records, furniture and even gently used mannequins can be yours for the taking if you’ve got the stamina (and some comfortable walking shoes!) Check out our favorite spots in this second hand shopper’s nirvana and then get to work! There are only so many hours in a day…

Beacon’s Closet

beacons closet

The mammoth Beacon's Closet is just waiting for you to come in, browse and leave laden with goodies.

This is the mothership of all vintage clothing spots on the Northside. A warehouse on the northern frontier with it’s hot pink logo beckoning to all comers in search of that perfect piece from the 1980’s or a classic designer number from just last year, it is next to impossible to leave this place empty handed. It’s huge, and yet manages not to feel overwhelming, with it’s carefully selected merchandise beautifully organized by color with each carousel of garments topped with a circle of shoes that match the color scheme exactly. You will most definitely find just the thing you need to get yourself noticed at the next TV On The Radio gig.

They also have new and used accessories, books, fun kitchy gift items and tons of jewelry. The prices are reasonable, and they have buyers on site who will take your used items (if they deem them worthy of selling) in exchange for cash or, better yet, store credit.

Beacon’s Closet
88 North 11 Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Monday through Friday, 11 am to 9 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 8 pm

About Glamour

about glamour

About Glamour brings Japanese sophistication to the Northside's vintage scene.

Into a more Japanese designer esthetic? Then About Glamour is your spot. With hard-to-find vintage pieces from such luminaries as Comme des Garcons and Hysteric Glamour, you can deck yourself out in rarefied style for a fraction of what you might have paid for any of this stuff new.

With much of the second hand stock coming from Japan, plus a smattering of retro-modern new accessories, a gigantic wall of stickers (to make the 5 year old in all of us jump for joy) and even an art gallery in the back (a compelling space where emerging creatives in many disciplines show and promote their work) this 2400 sq ft space manages to feel intimate and personal, exclusive yet relaxed and friendly. It’s the kind of place you are overjoyed to discover, but don’t want to tell anyone else about lest the word get out and it become overrun. Oops. Guess we shouldn’t have said anything…

About Glamour
107-A North 3rd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 599-3044

Sunday through Thursday, noonish to 8ish
Friday, noonish to 9ish
Saturday, noonish to 10ish

Book Thug Nation

book thug nation

Book Thug nation is punk in the best of all possible ways - independent, free thinking and on the cutting edge.

After you’ve had your fill of Japanese stationary and Yamamoto trenchcoats, head across North 3rd Street to Book Thug Nation, where you can sip a free cup of coffee or tea while expanding your mind via the shelves upon shelves of second hand books, magazines and even a few records.

Founded by four independent booksellers who started out peddling their wares on the street (they still have a table on Bedford Avenue) this labor of love specializes in literary fiction, but also stocks hard to find zines and small edition art books, as well as a surprisingly large selection of volumes on martial arts. The children’s books are a particular favorite, as they feature many left-of-center titles that are fun for grownups as well as the kids. They also host readings and other literary-minded events, so it’s well worth checking out their site for updates.

Book Thug Nation
100 North 3 Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Open every day, from noon to 9 pm

Shanti Shack

shanti shack

Fresh peaches, sweet corn salad and puree of cauliflower and zucchini soup are just a few of the scrumptious offerings on the menu (changes daily!) at the Shani Shack.

At this point, maybe you’re a little hungry and looking for just the right thing to kick yourself into high gear for an afternoon of hard core treasure hunting. Take your new (used) book and cozy up to the counter at the Shanti Shack, the exquisite little cafe located inside of the Kula Yoga Project’s Williamsburg studio.

The menu changes everyday, but you can expect to find top notch, beautifully presented, lovingly prepared food all geared towards helping you to, in their own words, “get your personal house of peace on.” Sure it’s all good for you, but this spot is all about indulgently beautiful eating. And with dishes like watermelon, mozzarella and baby arugula salad with balsamic olive vinaigrette, roasted asparagus tart or a glass of fresh pineapple, pear, orange, lime and ginger juice, you’ll be surprised how delicious truly healthy eating can be. Run don’t walk.

The Shanti Shack
85 North 3 Street
Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211
(917) 969-3778

Monday, 12:30 pm to 6:30 pm
Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 am to 6:30 pm
Saturday, 9:30 am to 6:30 pm
Sunday, noon to 6 pm

The Flying Squirrel

flying squirrel comp

At the Flying Squirrel, you can get everything your kid needs to have the most excellent time ever and look good while he or she is at it!

So you’ve fortified yourself with healthy deliciousness and are now feeling generous. Time to stop by The Flying Squirrel and pick up some very gently used clothes, books or toys for the kiddies in your life. One of the area’s more senior retail residents (they opened way back in ’04) this informal HQ of the local parenting scene carries a mind boggling array of necessities (bathing suits, t shirts, raincoats, toy organs…) while also covering the patent-leather-shoe-and-white-socks bases for the monthly visit to Grandma.

They will also (by appointment only) buy your stuff in exchange for cash or, even better, for store credit, which makes shopping there an even better deal. If you travel with children, expect to stay awhile as the selection of books and toys is substantial. But do not dismay, as the only thing in short supply here are the electronic, noise-making, light-flashing monstrosities that fill the shelves of so many toy stores these days!

The Flying Squirrel
96 North 6 St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 218-7775

Monday through Thursday, 11 am to 7 pm
Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 8 pm
Sunday, 11 am to 7 pm

Academy Record Annex

academy records comp

Academy Records is keeping hope alive for fans of vinyl all over the city.

We all know that a hipster ‘hood is not truly hip without a first rate vintage record store to call it’s own. Enter Academy Records, which opened it’s Williamsburg outpost (or Annex, as the case may be) in 2004. One of New York City’s most well known repositories of second hand LP’s (yes, and Cd’s too,) they also carry a solid selection of new releases out on vinyl.

A supporter of small labels and local bands, Academy tends to have a nice assortment of new releases by these folks that are difficult, if not impossible, to find elsewhere. They have listening stations so that you know what you’re getting into, and an unnervingly friendly staff (not the usual hipper-than-thou types we all know and love) that answer your questions and make great suggestions as well. Hey, it’s not called “Academy” for nothin’!

96 N 6th St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 218-8200

Open every day from noon to 9 pm.


monk comp

Monk's selection of sunglasses and other accessorites puts it on our 'must shop here' list for sure.

Smaller than Beacon’s Closet, but considerably larger than any of ours, the Williamsburg outpost of Manhattan’s successful vintage venture Monk is on Driggs Avenue to stay. One flight up from street level, this overflowing wealth of secondhand clothes and accessories caters more to the 50’s and 60’s inspired tattoo-sporting set than the sleek 80’s obsessed hipster, though there is most certainly something for everyone in this colorful spot.

For one thing, they have the most impressive collection of sunglasses of any store this side of the BQE, which is saying quite a bit. There are enough brightly colored petticoats hanging from the ceiling to satisfy the princess ballerina lover in all (or most) of us, and they also seem to carry old-skool roller skates quite often, which makes those of us who never defected to the in-line version very happy.

96 Driggs Ave
Brooklyn, New York 11211
(718) 384-6665

Monday through Thursday, 11 am to 8 pm
Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 9 pm
Sunday, noon to 8 pm


junk comp

You can truly get everything, including the kitchen sink, at Junk.

Right around the corner (in the basement of the same building, actually) you will find one of the true gems of the neighborhood – a store aptly named Junk. And junk is precisely what you will find there, though the contents of this vast subterranean shop prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that one man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure.

You’ll need stamina to attack the rows upon rows of merch, but it’s well worth the effort. This place has everything. Literally. From clothes and shoes, books and records, chairs and tables, dishes and electronics to framed art, typewriters and vintage dolls. A person could outfit their entire life from this one place, in style and for relatively little money. The inventory changes quickly, so every visit is bound to uncover new delights that are just waiting to jump out of the store and into your home.

197 N 9th St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 640-6299

Monday through friday, 9 am to 11 pm
Saturday, 10 am to 9 pm
Sunday, 9 am to 9 pm


bakeri comp

We could probably finsih off the entire lot of these cookies and breads, especially if we're hanging out in the back yard at Bakeri. But we'll save some for you guys.

It is now high time for a little pick me up, and what better place for a relaxing cup of delicious coffee with a freshly baked scone or plate full of tea cookies than Bakeri, a tiny off-the-beaten-path cafe with a tranquil garden and the most delicious array of baked goods you may ever stumble across in your wanderings.

All of the breads and pastries are made on site – they even sell their baguettes to local restaurants and cafes – and they tend to sell out of their more popular loaves by midday (challah, brioche or their multi-grain fjord bread, anyone?) The mini croissants melt in your mouth and the savory tart (different every day!) is always a delight, served up on vintage dishes reminiscent of a Scandinavian grandmother’s country cottage. Paired with an herbal iced tea or caffe latte and you’ve got the most perfect energy boost imaginable.

150 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Open every day from 8 am to 7 pm

The Salvation Army

salvation army

The Salvation Army is really the standard against which all other thrift stores are measured.

No trip to Williamsburg’s Northside is complete without paying homage to the godmother of all thrift stores – The Salvation Army. This is the ground zero of all vintage shopping, with the lowest prices and the widest assortment of stuff for the entire family. It is here that you can find a YSL 3 piece suit for $10, a pull out couch for $50 and an Italian leather purse for $6. Which in New York City is practically free. And while it is true that this particular store is constantly picked over by hoards of people in-the-know, there are also loads of donations pouring in daily from the local scenesters, ensuring a constant supply of exciting finds for those willing to sift through the racks. Plus all of the proceeds go towards helping the Salvation Army do the important charitable work it is so well known for.

The Salvation Army Family Store
176 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 388-9249

Monday and Tuesday, 9 am to 6 pm
Wednesday through Saturday, 9 am to 7:30 pm

Map It Out

View Krrb’s Williamsburg Northside in a larger map.

  • Joanne

    Brooke…what happened to Part 2? Williamsburg Southside…

  • theenglish sofacompany

    Vintage Sofa

    The English Sofa Company Four Seater Leather Sofa – Vintage Bruciato. The Abbey features large flat arms, giving it a modern appearence. The depth of the sofa allows for a generous seating area that is perfect for lounging.That’s fantastic! That sofa absolutely pops now – very very cool. Thank you for sharing this!

  • NycFitness

    New York Personal TrainingI

    Its really nice place to learn many things. Thanks Dear

  • Wow! Can I visit your place? 

  • I love that place, too! The selection is really great and, if nothing else, the owner has an amazing collection of gnomes scattered throughout the store. My daughter loves checking them out!

  • Lindajnyc

    my favorite shop in williamsburg is a fairly new place called “Brooklyn Denim Co.” It’s fairly new with a super chilled out cool staff. Their selection of denim is amazing and I never feel intimated or rushed etc. about finding the right pair of jeans. they have some really cool accessories too. just thought i’d share. it’s definitely a cool local shop that i feel really lucky to have in my neighborhood. wythe and north 3rd.

  • Me too!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Love the Shanti Shack!!!! xooxo

  • Happy to have provided you with a starting point… There’s so much to do and see in this area that it can get overwhelming!

  • Laura

    What a fantastic guide!  I look forward to my next trip to Williamsburg
    I usually get so overwhelmed, but now I have a plan!

  • We can’t wait to have you!! And I think snacking is CRUCIAL to any successful shopping venture. Especially thrifting. It’s hard work!

  • We can’t wait to have you!! And I think snacking is CRUCIAL to any successful shopping venture. Especially thrifting. It’s hard work!

  • Van

    I love how you’ve included places to stop and snack on your Brooklyn thrifting pilgrimage. I can’t wait to explore the area one day!