On Saturday November 26, the Brooklyn Flea settled in for the winter in the majestic confines of Skylight One Hanson. After an awesome outdoor season -- both at the Fort Greene schoolyard and along the Williamsburg waterfront -- the Flea and its vendors are looking forward to warm weekends inside the landmark building. Each week we choose to highlight one of our hundreds of vendors, since all of the Flea sellers have fascinating histories and tales to tell. For our first foray on the Huffington Post, we present a profile of Jarontiques, one of the coolest, quirkiest antique dealers we know. Look for Jarontiques and all of your favorite vendors at the Flea, on Saturdays and Sundays all winter long.
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One of the first things you see when you enter the Brooklyn Flea at Skylight One Hanson is the bright and bold display from Jaron Cupak of Jarontiques. You'll notice a sea of oranges and yellows, funky patterns and stylish shapes -- it's an impeccable selection of mid-century modern furniture, cool smalls, groovy games and teak kitchenware.
Brooklyn-based owner Jaron is a Nebraska boy, born and raised in Omaha. "My parents were touring musicians," he says, "and as a result, most of my time was spent with my grandparents. They had a passion for collecting. I began selling my collection of baseball cards, then bargain hunting for more once my stock was depleted." Jaron's passion for collecting evolved with his age and interests: in his teens, he became a music fan and scavenged for records and memorabilia.
This naturally led to a career in the music industry, where for many years he held down a big-deal job as a sales director for a major record label. In 2008 he began to seriously dedicate himself to the world of antiques, setting up at the Flea during its first season. Soon, furniture edged out CDs: "While most nine-to-fivers were counting down the days until the weekend so they could sleep in or get away for a couple of days, I was looking forward to setting up at the Flea!" he says. "The decision to give up my executive career in music was simple; I live for antiques."
He frequents auctions and makes trips back to the midwest to visit family and scope out the local antique malls. But Jaron explains that since the popularity of this kind of treasure hunting is at an all-time high, thanks to shows like American Pickers and Pawn Stars, good deals (even far outside of New York City) are getting harder and harder to come by.
Jaron is especially passionate about mid-century and Danish modern furniture, art and decorative items from the 1950s through the 1970s, as well as folk/primitive art dating from the 1800s to the early 20th century. "I find that many shoppers who purchase my Scandinavian pieces are actually from places like Copenhagen and Stockholm," he says. "It's fascinating to think that these tourists travel to New York to acquire things that were originally manufactured in their home countries. The life of these items truly comes full circle; they end up returning to where they originated. I love the fact that the Flea brings together so many people from so many different countries all with the common collecting thread."
Now there are even more ways to encounter Jaron's collection, since he just opened a shop on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights (117 Atlantic Avenue, 718-288-1050). It's a mix of high-end modern furniture and decorative items, and some relatively inexpensive stuff such as desk lamps and radios, he says. "I try to have something for everyone."
For Jaron, it's all about "the connections between my fellow dealers and the customers who have a mutual appreciation of wonderful, old things. I love exchanging stories about acquiring unusual pieces and sharing the beautiful things I cherish. There's no better feeling than seeing the excitement in customers' faces when they discover something so unique. The story of each piece continues through each change of hand." History in the making right here at the Flea.