Stepping into the Hayloft Auctions warehouse in the South Bronx is like stepping into the coolest vintage store of all time: A room full of silver objects of every shape and use, racks of curious kimonos and furs, chairs upon chairs and books upon books, and all kinds of objects you couldn’t dream up: mother of pearl binoculars, Chanel costume jewelry, old cameras in original leather cases, iridescent objects that quite possibly date back to the Middle Ages… The list does go on.
Located in Port Morris – a former industrial neighborhood whose old factories and warehouses are now home to many new, fun businesses – Hayloft Auctions looks and feels very much like an enormous, funky treasure trove. It is a curiosity to those who pass by: the Uber driver who picked me up there, who lives nearby in the Bronx, asked me what it was all about – he was decorating a new house, he said, and he wanted to know if that was a good place to look.
My answer, of course, was yes. I had no idea what this man’s income was; this house, he said, was his second. But Hayloft is the Uber driver’s sale, just as it is the college student’s sale, just as it is the young million-or-billionaire’s sale, just as it is the old one’s; because Hayloft’s entire mission is accessibility. It is the place to find a bargain. It is the place to find that hidden treasure and to bid on it for five or twenty dollars; or to battle it out for it for five hundred. In a world in which auctions can seem uptight and too expensive, time consuming and uninviting, Hayloft is here to say, “Come on in.” Or, rather, “bid online when you have the time in the next three days.”
One of the cooler things about Hayloft is the way in which it benefits the community around it. Laura Doyle, who founded Hayloft Auctions, has made it a focus that Hayloft be a good neighbor in the Bronx community. Items that “pass” in the auction, or go unsold, are frequently donated to the ACACIA or to Catholic Charities – specifically their Beacon of Hope division, which houses people with mental illness. Blythe Knapp, Business Manager at Hayloft Auctions (really, one of the people central to its day-to-day operation), highlighted that it is so important for such individuals to have comfortable, homey furniture like the pieces that Hayloft can provide.
On the average day, like the Monday on which I went to visit Hayloft Auctions, the place is just humming with activity. Brian Corcoran, the Director of Hayloft, may or may not have just secured a fresh new delivery from an estate or a collection – he is always finding new sources of exciting inventory. When Hayloft started on the sixth floor of Doyle’s location on East 87th Street two years ago, Brian said, it was overflowing with inventory. Now in a large South Bronx warehouse, all of that inventory is sorted into the various sections, and Blythe says that that job is never-ending. As we walked through the warehouse, we found a feather-capped hat, for example, sitting in the furniture section. Blythe happily carried it to the clothing rack.
So, who shops at Hayloft, and why? Well, decorators and dealers do – prominent ones; and collectors of all ages do too. “There’s freedom in this for people,” said Blythe. “It’s so much less formal. It really is an adventure from start to finish. And I mean that. You should see the way some purchases are driven away strapped to some people’s cars.” I am definitely looking at this sale for my own apartment: hints as to which lots are in the slide show above.
-- Olivia Andrews Dillingham
Timed online-only auctions of furniture, art and décor
Current auction closes on Sunday, August 13 at 7pm (EDT)