Business + Services

Q+A: Hideya Sagawa of Front General Store

Looking for old Antique or Vintage items but don’t feel like traveling hours Upstate or hours West? Look no further than Front General Store (143 Front Street), an Antique/Vintage Store specializing in old American items. Treasures and history abound as a massive array of items adorn the walls, ceiling, shelves, and every available counter top. DUMBO BID intern Rachel Hamburger stopped in to chat with shop owner Hideya Sagawa.

We are very excited about the addition of Front General Store in the neighborhood. Tell us, how did you end up DUMBO? What attracted you to open up a storefront here?

Hideya Sagawa: Actually, we had two different locations to choose from. Between Williamsburg and DUMBO. At first, we thought Williamsburg was the best location for us to open.  However, after we researched DUMBO, we have found out there are no vintage or antique markets in DUMBO at all. That definitely have made us feel excited to open a new store to carry these items both to introduce our self and show some old good quality American clothes and antiques. Also DUMBO has a feeling of local! That character of DUMBO made us feel that we would like to grow with the neighborhood. And second, we have been doing business at 68 Jay for the last 3 years buying and selling vintage and antiques to dealers, stylists, and designers so having a store down stairs is also a big benefit for us.

Walking into Front General Store, there are so many treasures large and small on the shelves, on the walls, and hanging from the ceilings. How do all the items find there way inside?

HS: We do Brooklyn flea which most people who walk in to the store recognize us from. We do a lot of traveling around the country and are always looking for good quality old American stuff. When it comes to merchandise, we wanted to make the store look different from others. We like the store to be a place where customers can touch and feel the items and try them on. I don’t like the kind of store that has many pieces hanging on ceiling but are not for sale. We are different from that.

What is the history behind the creation of your store? Have you always had an interest with antiques and vintage items? Did your interest start as a collection and blossom into something more?

HS: I have been wearing vintage since 1985 and I came to the states in 1990. I was always going to flea markets looking for old quality things. I used to collect every category of Americana; clothing, kitchen ware, toys, rugs, dolls, and all those little things became a collection. I like mostly things from 1920’s-1960’s. I used to work for What Goes Around Comes Around for 13 years doing visual merchandise, window display, sales to designers. But this time I wanted to create the store differently from what I used to do. Especially because many other vintage shops looks similar (to that other style). Our store name is Front General Store because the concept behind the store is that of a Southwest old general store, the old trading post. There are many things in the shop, many things are hanging from ceiling, however we are not there yet, we have just opened about 6 weeks ago! But the feeling of an old Southwestern trading post is the direction we would like to go. And also to mix Japanese points of view with old American feel.

When going to thrift/vintage stores in NYC, it is quite easy to find a saturation of junk but never many actual items of value. Without revealing any of your foraging secrets, where is the best place to find antiques and vintage treasures? Or maybe the question should be, what is the best way to approach the quest in finding valuable thrifted items?

HS: The best place to finding antiques isn’t in NY. Upstate NY has many old good things but I personally feel places outside of state like Massachusetts, Boston is always great to me.Today you can really buy anything if you have money. Trust your instinct and your personal value is always higher than market value so don’t worry much about market value as long as you don’t pay a lot. Buy what you like!!

Any antique or vintage item you are on the hunt for at the moment?

HS: I am always looking for something but when I see an item even if it is not what I need at the moment, if it is nice and cheap, I will buy it. However right now, I am into old oil paintings.

Any good gift ideas we can find in Front General Store for the Holiday Season?

HS: I have many ideas, but here are a few:

  • We carry many small things and also vintage clothes that have never been worn
  • 1990’s government issued watch caps for $15
  • Ties, Bowties from 1950’s (never been worn) go for $12-$28
  • Many men’s dress shoes from 50’s, 60’s (never been worn)
  • Navajo jewelries
  • Pendleton blankets
  • Many tools such as work tags, which come with numbers and writing, or you can create and make your own necklace or key chain for yourself or for somebody you like!

Stop by Front General Store (143 Front St) and delve into America’s Past. Happy Hunting!