The month of May was the last for Mark’s Antiques and Larry’s Back Room at its 612 Warren Street location. A trove of unexpected, largely mechanical objets trouvé shared by Mark Wasserbach and Larry Forman, the store has been “casually” displaying its wares at 612 Warren for twenty years but suddenly became another victim of sharply rising rents on the street. As a result, Wasserbach and Forman have spent the last few weeks packing up its beguiling gee gaws and moving it all to what is now called the Antique Warehouse at 99 South Third Street, formerly the L&B Factory. By doing so, the store joins a surprisingly chock-full enterprise call Cottage Treasures and a sizable sales annex to the Lili and Loo home-furnishings emporium (259 Warren). (Many of the remarkable sculptures that Wasserbach has transformed from his stock of old industrial metal are now on view at the McDaris Fine Art gallery at 623 Warren.)
To many, the huge, ungainly sheet metal structure at 99 South Street shouldn’t be there at all, situated as it is in an area that would be wonderfully suited for a park-like extension of the Hudson waterfront. A second best alternative, perhaps, is that it is becoming a refuge for the decorative-arts retail community displaced by higher rents and might very well become a destination in and of itself for those who know Hudson for its rich supply of vintage “treasures.” Still, as I’ve written in previous posts, it’s rather unsettling to think that Warren Street might be losing its distinctive identity — not to mention original attractiveness — brought to it by its concentration of aesthetic-oriented businesses.
As I concluded in a piece called “Hudson On My Mind,” published in Rural Intelligence a few years ago: “There is nothing quite like veering from [the town’s odder vestiges of a previous era, such as a vacated orthopedic supply store] to the town’s retailers, who are so talented at window display that their storefronts sometimes look like year round art exhibitions. Considering how bleak everything might be without them, a case could be made for giving urban renewal funds to these antiques dealers, gallery owners, and other masters of retinal pleasure who have located here over the last decade or so. Or at least a tax deduction for lighting their resplendent displays at night time, no matter how many or how few might see them. The fact that their focus is an aesthetic one gives people the impression that they are too elite, specialized, expensive or unapproachable. Which misses the point entirely: like Hudson’s architectural master builders, this new generation of entrepreneurs are once again arranging things to make community life a thing of grace and beauty every day and night of the year.” — Scott Baldinger