Hip Brooklynites Are Snapping Up These Country-Style Antiques

Zeitgeist-savvy Audrey Gelman has been scouring America looking for the wooden cows, antique quilts and spongeware pottery Manhattanites can't get enough of for her Brooklyn shop the Six Bells. Find out what's trending in the world of "new country" style.

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The Six Bells owner Audrey Gelman shopping.

Audrey Gelman Shopping

Audrey Gelman on the hunt.

Photo by: The Six Bells

The Six Bells

Audrey Gelman on the hunt.

The front window at The Six Bells.

Window Display

The front window at The Six Bells.

Photo by: The Six Bells

The Six Bells

New York City-based Audrey Gelman, 36, is a shrewd businesswoman who has pivoted to a brand new enterprise that has her poised to be the next home decor mogul.

After stints as Hilary Clinton's press aide and at the helm of the woman-centric co-working space The Wing, Audrey has embarked on a new venture. As the owner of the Brooklyn housewares shop the Six Bells, Audrey has developed a cult following among New Yorkers on the prowl for cottagecore. Or, as the shop's tagline puts it, the Six Bells offers "handpicked housewares from small towns around the world."

The Six Bells owner Audrey Gelman

Audrey Gelman

The Six Bells owner Audrey Gelman

Photo by: The Six Bells

The Six Bells

The woman who inspired bestie Lena Dunham's character Marnie (played by Allison Williams) on Girls is now operating the kind of twee shop you might find a hip Oberlin-educated mover and shaker running on a streaming show about hip Oberlin-educated movers and shakers.

Brooklyn's Six Bells shop.

The Six Bells Interior

Brooklyn's Six Bells shop.

Photo by: Nick Glimenakis

Nick Glimenakis

A woman with a canny ability to identify marketplace trends, Audrey is now catering to a changing zeitgeist and millennials and Gen Z members embarking on their own lifestyle journey.

"I think Millennials grew up thrifting for clothes and now are buying homes, having kids and spending less money and time on what they wear," says Audrey.

"That passion for the hunt, and for re-using old things has gotten channeled into decorating their homes with antiques. We’re definitely seeing Millennials buying staples like quilts, bedding and ceramic dinnerware."

Spongeware is a favorite at The Six Bells.

Spongeware in the Shop WIndow

Spongeware is a favorite at The Six Bells.

Photo by: The Six Bells

The Six Bells

Younger and maybe less fixed to one place, "with Gen Z, they often live with roommates or in a small dorm or studio but want it to feel otherworldly. We often see them stocking up on candles, mugs and smaller ‘starter’ antiques," says Audrey.

We accompanied Audrey on a recent buying trip to the suburbs of Atlanta where she sourced vintage finds for the shop she calls "a country store in the city." Ironically, the very items she was sourcing at a Douglasville, Georgia antique mall will most likely be scouped up by a Southerner — her biggest e-commerce customer market is the South.

"Every antique you see in the store and online was probably hand-picked by me at an antique mall, estate sale, or flea market and hauled back to the city in a sprinter van," says Audrey.

Quilts for sale at The Six Bells.

Quilts

Quilts for sale at The Six Bells.

Photo by: Nick Glimenakis

Nick Glimenakis

Dressed in a cornflower blue sundress, carrying a micro-L.L. Bean boat and tote bag and armed with a light sweatshirt — handy for overly air-conditioned antique malls — Audrey handles a shopping cart like an Indy car driver, weaving through the booths filled with decades of American cast-offs and trends, on the hunt for anything ornamented with a sheep, roosters or — especially — cows.

Top Sellers at the Six Bells

  1. Traditional American red patchwork quilts
  2. Spongewear pottery
  3. Farmhouse-themed ceramic mugs
  4. Windsor chairs
  5. Primitive-style stools
  6. Cutting boards
  7. Wooden jugs
  8. Hand-crafted grape soaps from Lebanon
  9. Sheep mugs from Ireland
  10. Farmhouse tables
  11. Longaberger baskets
  12. Vintage oil painting portraits

Wicker-framed mirrors and spongeware, samplers and quilts, carved wooden watermelons and other items some might recognize from the country chic craze of the Eighties are now finding pride of place in the lofts and railroad flats of Buschwick and the Upper Westside.

The shop offers a variety of items Audrey hand-picks on her sourcing jaunts in the South, Midwest and — her favorite shopping sites — Pennslyvania Amish country. The shop also offers new, curated items that remain popular with customers like Sheep Mugs from Nicholas Mosse in Ireland and hand-crafted grape soaps that have been made by the same Tripoli family since 1803.

Like Gwyneth's Goop or Martha's Living, the Six Bells is a lifestyle as much as a store. Audrey takes Six Bells superfans on bus trips outside Manhattan for prime antique shopping and has even invented a Wes Anderson-worthy uber-adorable backstory about where the Six Bells is located complete with hand-drawn illustrations of a small village, Barrow's Green, and its entire cast of characters inspired by Audrey's collection of vintage oil painting portraits.

Vintage painted items sell well at The Six Bells.

Country Scene and Candles

Vintage painted items sell well at The Six Bells.

Photo by: The Six Bells

The Six Bells

That countryfied fantasy is perfect timing, tapping into the desire of younger shoppers weaned on too much tech, mass produced goods, modern design and disconnection, for comforting, cozy totems of the past and the homemade. As a result, says Audrey, "I think a decade ago, a younger shopper would have wanted something sleek, white and modern. Now, the idea of having a walnut desk with a patina seems much more appealing. The great thing about wood is it goes with nearly everything."

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