While the shopping strip has historically been known for its antique shops, over the last few months fashion stores have been springing up along the avenue.
“Atlantic Avenue used to be an antique destination and we still have that,” said Josef Szende, executive director of the Atlantic Avenue BID. “But people were coming here for antiques and other kinds of furniture, and fashion designers began opening up next door.”
In addition, Szende said that many residents have settled down with families in the area, giving the fashion storeowners the ability to have a long-lasting relationship with clients.
“You’re going to be in an area where you have fashion-forward and fashion-conscious people,” he said. “You’re going to have a great clientele.
“The Barclays Center has borough great shops like Planet Brooklyn Academy,” said Szende about an Atlantic Avenue boutique that makes skateboard-style clothing with a Brooklyn theme. “Whenever there is an event, Planet Brooklyn will make a special t-shirt for it.”
For instance, the store made a specific limited edition t-shirt for the MTV Video Music Awards only available in the boutique.
“This is something that Brooklyn needed,” said Rob Norman, owner of Planet Brooklyn Academy, which has been open for roughly four months. “It needed a true brand of its own.”
Norman is a Brooklyn native who combined his love of the borough and graphic design background. He is also a college professor at Fashion Institute of Technology, where he teaches product development.
“Atlantic Avenue was the best place to come to because there has been such a change over the years,” he said. “It started being a very antiques-driven strip and now since being here I’ve seen the coming of very high-end stores.”
Niche shops, such as fragrance stores, have also been opening up.
“We wanted to bring artisan fragrances to Boerum Hill,” said Eric Weiser, co-owner of Twisted Lily. “There is nothing like it in the area and coming from 30 years in the beauty industry and online experience we decided there is only so much you can do with selling niche perfumes online.”
Now, Weiner said he spends his time working with customers to determine the type of smell they want.
“Many times people don’t even know what they want,” he said.
Yayoi Inada runs the jewelry store Written By Forest on Atlantic Avenue.
“This is my studio-slash-shop,” she said, standing in front of a display case and an area for making jewelry. Next to the register a baby was lying in a bassinet.
Szende explained that many Atlantic Avenue business owners choose to become entrepreneurs to set their own hours once they have children.
He went on to say that the vacancy rates along the avenue have dropped from over 10 percent in April to 6 percent today.
“For years Atlantic Avenue was mainly a neighborhood associated with Brooklyn’s past,” he said. “But now, it’s a destination for New York’s future.”