A Repeat Performance could certainly use a little extra space. The beloved East Village antique shop is practically bursting at the seams, overflowing with decades-worth of ephemera collected by co-owners Sharon Jane Smith and Beverley Bronson. Costume jewelry spills over on to the racks of vintage clothing, brightly colored felt hand-puppets overlook a vintage surfboard, while rows of leather satchels vie for space amidst one of the world’s most eclectic lamp collections.
Now the two East Village old-timers have spread out into the adjacent storefront that Linhardt Gallery vacated in April to open what Smith describes as “a design showroom and a gallery combined with a shop” — “an extension of the current space, but with new energy and new ideas.”
The two women have partnered with musicians Tennessee Thomas and Miguel Strong, who are helping to curate “the gallery,” as Smith calls it, with a rotating cast of young artists. In the two months since opening at 156 First Avenue, it has welcomed poetry readings, music, and exhibits from a hat designer and painter, while upcoming events in August and September will showcase vintage clothing retailers.
Smith believes the amorphous cultural venue was very much needed. “This is a neighborhood full of artists and they need a place to connect, to share their ideas of what should be on the wall,” she says. “We see it as a place for people to come together with others in the neighborhood who share their artistic inclinations. And to figure out how to make a living while still doing that.”
While the new space will provide young artists with a venue to showcase and peddle their wares, it will also create new financial latitude for Smith and Bronson, since it doubles as an overflow room for A Repeat Performance’s stock. Right now, the contents include a 1959 Danish Modern chaise, a knee-high steel Buddha, turn-of-the-century oil paintings, a Japanese clothing line, and on and on.
“By taking an object out of there and moving it in here you give it space, it becomes something you can be aware of,” says Smith.
Although they had previously made their living off sales from a Repeat Performance, she and Bronson now hope to give all the profits to their favorite charity projects, including the Lower Eastside Girls Club and a home for abandoned children that Bronson founded in Kathmandu.
And so the folks at a Repeat Performance are making good on that old New York maxim: a small space is a no barrier to big ideas.