Eight years ago, Erica Dobbs – owner of Greenpoint’s fantastic vintage clothing store, Ana Chronos – was living in the West Village, working as an account executive and, as it turns out, converting her one bedroom apartment into a giant walk-in closet filled with vintage clothes.
“When I moved to New York, I needed to dress up all the time and I hated what was out there,” said Dobbs from inside her cozy two-year-old business on Franklin Street. “I liked designer things, but I realized the craftsmanship was shit and I started buying vintage on the regular and really collecting.” Eventually she turned the passion into a business, and tonight, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., she’ll celebrate two years on Franklin with booze from Pavan Liqueur, snacks from Ovenly, music by Mistri Misrach and The Spookfish, and more. Best part: the first 15 people get 50% off her rare vintage finds, and everyone else gets 30% off all night long.
We spoke to Dobbs about her start as a street vendor on Bedford Avenue, Franklin Street’s new status as tourist destination, and more.
I used to be really fascinated with old things. I would go antiquing all the time before I realized I was going antiquing. I started wandering into thrift stores while my mom would grocery shop in probably middle school. It wasn’t cool then, so to get second hand was crazy. I didn’t start buying it until I was in college, but in high school I started wearing some of my grandma’s things.
I started this and everyone thought I was crazy. “You’re gonna do what? You’re gonna open a second hand shop? You’re moving to Brooklyn?” I was a [college] dropout and, with the exception of having a babysitting business in middle school, I had no idea how to start or run a company. I started selling my stuff on the street, on Bedford Avenue, which was a total shitshow, and I didn’t have a permit and I didn’t know I needed one of those. But you know? The cops are really cool, I will say that. Occasionally they’ll make you close down your little setup and street vendors get pissed cause you’re a total newbie, but that’s when I knew I could do it, selling on the street, because people took to it.
I saved a little money – which I spent. You never have enough money. It’s pretty intense actually. You can budget until the end of time and there is just somehow never enough. Especially when you’re trying to start a company. But, with the exception of selling on the street, I didn’t have to work and was able to focus solely on my company.
I was at Artists & Fleas and it was an awesome learning experience, but I knew I wanted my own space and environment. My morning walk was up Franklin Street and I always knew that I wanted to live in Greenpoint. That’s where I started to look for apartments, and that’s when I stumbled on this space. I popped in, started talking to the owner and she randomly said she was moving. I knew that the universe was telling me something so I said, “Fuck it, I’m going to go for it.”
The first day I opened my doors: “Chirp, chirp.” It was so quiet. It was so fucking quiet for like a year. It was a tough year. There’s nothing that kills your morale like sitting twirling your thumbs all day. It was tough. I started seeing the change within the last year, it’s insane. Something new opens up every month. It’s crazy, the amount of tourism. We just saw a tour group?! That’s new. It’s really impressive.
I wanted a really well curated space. I wanted it to feel clean and welcoming. I wanted someone to come in and feel like they’re walking into a friend’s closet, you know? I wanted it to smell nice. It’s about energy. Colors on the wall. I needed it to feel good.
I love estate shopping. It’s such an experience. You need to get there bright and early. They don’t come until 8 a.m. and you’re there for hours just waiting in line. When you go to a home that is just lived and loved and cherished, you feel that on the clothing. I’m getting the chills right now. I don’t know, it’s just a really beautiful experience.
You can go northern or southern and honestly southern was just too hot and I had never been to Portland and had heard so much about it. I would say Colorado was great. But it’s very hit or miss. Next trip could be different. Ohio was good.