When it comes to thrifting and antiquing in the Hudson Valley, Sullivan County, located in the western Catskills, is where it’s at. This sprawling rural area remains largely untrammeled, especially when it comes to finding great antiques, vintage items, all-out kitsch, and cool junk at bargain prices. In fact, Sullivan County is so proliferate with thrift stores, antiques shops, and flea markets that it helps to be prepared before you head out, so make sure you’ve got a big vehicle, plenty of cash, and a plan. The big vehicle is to get all of your purchases home. The cash is for some of the smaller shops as well as any of the flea markets you might see along the way, which often aren’t set up for credit cards. And your plan should include shopping venues as well as eateries and scenic byways, all of which are numerous enough to spend a whole day scoping them out.
While the drive out into the western side of the Hudson Valley tends to be long—reaching Monticello takes about an hour from the New York State Thruway’s Exit 19 (Kingston/Woodstock) or about two hours from Midtown Manhattan—it’s an incredibly scenic route, so you can enjoy the ride as much as the shopping and eating.
Check out the Sullivan County Visitors Association (SCVA.net) for a lengthy list of the area’s thrift, antiques, vintage, and junk stores. Fair warning, however: If you want to hit each and every one of them, it’s going to take more than a day, so plan to stay in the area for a while—or use Upstater’s selective guide, starting in Liberty and ending in Callicoon.
To reach Liberty, take Route 209 from the Ulster County hamlet of Napanoch to Route 55 around the Rondout Reservoir all the way into the hamlet of Grahamsville. From there, continue west on Route 55 to the Neversink Reservoir and then another 10 minutes west to the village of Liberty.
1 North Main Street, Liberty
Part of the pleasure of shopping at Town & Country Antiques, which is housed inside of a funky patchwork midmod building right in the center of town, is getting lost among its aisles of ephemera. This store’s inventory is hand-selected by its buyers, and includes furniture, knickknacks, clocks, books, glassware, dinnerware, clothing, collectibles, and toys. Hours vary according to season. From September through June, Town & Country is open Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, 10am to 5pm; on Saturdays, the store closes at 3:45pm.
19 John Street, Liberty
Located right around the corner from Town & Country, this no-frills Thai restaurant offers the usual favorites like pad Thai, Thai noodle soup, Thai fried rice, and an assortment of curries like Massaman and Panang with lots of veggie and meat-centric options. Yelp reviewers and Facebook fans love the place, piling accolades at its virtual feet, like “The food is amazing, just amazing” and “I’m obsessed with it!” Sweet Basil Thai is open Tuesday through Saturday, serving lunch from 11am to 2:30pm and dinner from 5pm to 7pm.
300 Chestnut Street, Liberty
If the sight of rich mahogany sends you scrambling for your wallet, have it at the ready when you step into this 4,000-square-foot building filled with antique furniture. Expect to find items like c. 1920s leather-topped end tables, ornate tea carts, and hand-carved Victorian bed frames, with all furniture custom restored in-house. Open year-round, seven days a week, 10am to 5pm.
481 Broadway, Monticello
For reasonably priced vintage clothing, head south on Route 17 out of Ferndale and into Monticello. Catskill Attic is a consignment and secondhand clothing store that also offers a selection of antique décor, jewelry, and housewares. One shopper on Yelp referred to Catskill Attic as “a real treat of a business to have on this street.” Open year-round, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10:30am to 5pm, and Wednesday and Saturday from noon to 5pm.
34 Raceway Road, Monticello
This chrome-plated, 1950s throwback is beloved by locals and visitors alike and is lauded online as offering “the perfect breakfast” with large portions. Tilly’s banana cream pie is “to die for,” according to another reviewer. Open year-round, seven days a week, 6am to 10pm.
1100 Route 17B, Mongaup Valley
Continuing west on Route 17B toward Mongaup Valley, you’ll find Country Bum’kin Antiques off Exit 104. This multidealer clearinghouse for antiques and collectibles has a constantly revolving inventory, which means new items all the time. That also means that if you find something you like, you’d better buy it now. Merchandise includes jewelry, pottery, artwork, midcentury pieces, and Woodstock ’69 memorabilia. Open year-round, seven days a week; closed Tuesdays and Thursdays after Labor Day. Call for hours.
200 Hurd Road, Bethel
Nostalgic for 1969? In the market for some Woodstock memorabilia? Head 20 minutes farther west on Route 17B to Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. The Museum Shop at Bethel Woods offers an array of Woodstock-related apparel, including plenty of tie-dye, jewelry, books, and CDs, as well as memorabilia, and you don’t have to pay museum admission to shop there. But if you do decide to check out the museum, your visit will fit right in with antique hunting, as both activities have a decidedly nostalgic nature. The museum itself is housed within a LEED-certified green building, and its main exhibit, “Woodstock and the Sixties,” includes artifacts related to the 1969 music and arts festival that happened on its very site. The museum and shop are both open daily April 30 to September 5, from 10am to 7pm, and from September 6 to October 10, 10am to 5pm; open October 11 to December 24, Thursday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm; December 26 to 31, open daily, 10am to 5pm. Museum admission is $15 per adult, $13 per senior, $11 per youth (8–17), $6 per child (3–7), and free for children under three.
33 Lower Main Street, Callicoon
Callicoon, located along the Delaware River at the New York / Pennsylvania border, is the perfect place to end the day. The town is packed with shops, and thrift stores abound. Lee Harwell Antiques offers vintage items for interior decoration. Its inventory includes pottery, glass, lighting, art, metal, wood, and jewelry. This store is definitely more on the “antique” than the “thrift” side of the spectrum. Open Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 11am to 5pm; Sunday, 11am to 4pm; or by appointment.
21 Lower Main Street, Callicoon
Here you’ll find a riot of vintage items with an emphasis on midcentury kitsch. The Trash Queen is also the kind of place where you’re just as likely to find a musical instrument or a cool windup retro toy as a hand-tooled piece of wood furniture or a French crystal and brass chandelier. The store also holds a daily “indoor yard sale” with new merchandise weekly and markdowns up to 75 percent. The Trash Queen was named Best Vintage Store by the River Reporter. Call for hours.
31 Main Street, Callicoon
The term “hidden gem” gets thrown around a lot in reference to eateries in the Catskills, but Peppino’s is the real deal. Glowingly reviewed on Trip Advisor as “a sweet surprise” that offers nothing short of the “best food in the area,” this traditional Italian restaurant serves pizza, pasta, and entrées in an atmosphere so friendly it made one reviewer feel as if he were being “welcomed with open arms.” Open Monday through Saturday, 11am to 9pm, and Sunday, noon to 9pm.
Story by Kandy Harris
Photos by Eva Deitch