From Park Slope to Ithaca and back again — Petrune, the clothing store that opened last week at 233 5th Avenue, already has a well-traveled background. And its owners, who started out here many years ago, couldn’t be happier to be back.
Domenica Brockman and Justin Hjortshoj, the husband-and-wife team behind the shop, lived in and ran businesses in our neighborhood before heading upstate to raise their family. You may remember them from the flea market at PS 321, where they started out because of their shared love of old treasures.
“Justin and I had always had an interest in antiques and vintage,” Domenica says. “He worked for Paula Rubenstein Ltd. on Prince Street and I managed a folk art gallery in the West Village.”
After a couple months at the flea market, they opened their first store, Flux Co., on 5th Avenue between Union and Sackett, in 1998 in a partnership with Peter Pancucci and David Allen. A year or so later they lost the lease, and Domenica opened Curio, a small boutique on 7th Avenue and 13th Street (Peter continued Flux Co. for many years further up the street). But soon, their growing family made them see a need for another, bigger change.
“After our first daughter was born, we wanted more room so we moved to Ithaca, where we could have a house to ourselves and two sets of grandparents living nearby for our daughter,” Domenica says.
In Ithaca, the couple started out in antiques, then noticed a need for a vintage shop in the college town, where Domenica says there’s “a great demand for amazing vintage clothing, and handmade goods.” They started with a small store downtown, then moved Petrune, Ithaca into its current space on the centrally loacted Commons, the city’s bustling pedestrian mall. Still, they’d been looking for a way to get back into Park Slope, and when an opportunity presented itself, they jumped on it.
“We had always dreamed of finding a way back to Park Slope, and one day last October, Amara Felice of Eidolon contacted us out of the blue,” Domenica says. “Of course we remembered Eidolon from back when we were on 5th Avenue. The shop was truly groundbreaking as one of the first boutiques specializing in handmade goods before it was a huge trend. We started exchanging merchandise between our shops, and when Lucy, our manager, said she was thinking of taking courses at FIT this semester things just fell into place.”
Petrune Brooklyn’s manager, Lucy Carey, had been working at the Ithaca shop for six years, and Domenica says she has become instrumental in all aspects of managing the store.
“As you get to know her, you will see why we are so happy to continue working with her while she studies at FIT.”
The Brooklyn shop carries their vintage-inspired line Petrunia, plus estate jewelry, accessories, and an edited collection of some of the best vintage things they’ve found recently, such as ’40s suits, early designer pieces, ’50s cashmere sweaters, and one-of-a-kind pieces from the Edwardian era to the present. And following in the footsteps of Eidolon, the boutique that had been in this space for the past 14 years, Petrune plans to carry on the focus on handmade goods from local designers.
“We are so excited to be working with Amara and some of the other designers from Eidolon,” Domenica says. “We plan to expand our handmade offerings in Ithaca, as well as bring in some great Ithaca designers that would be new to Park Slope.”
Though the upstate town and our own neighborhood are separated by some distance, Domenica says there are some similarities between the two.
“With the Food Coop politics and all the yoga studios, they sometimes feel nearly interchangeable, but Park Slope is fed by the economic power of the region where Ithaca is fed by Cornell and Ithaca College,” she says. “The sense of community is very similar though.”
It’s that sense of community — and a more stable customer base that’s not leaving every graduation season — that Petrune Brooklyn looks forward to serving.
“We are so happy to be back!” Domenica says. “It’s amazing how much 5th Avenue has changed in the past 12 years, and yet, how many familiar faces there were on the street. It feels like coming home.”
Petrune Brooklyn is located at 233 5th Avenue, between President and Carroll Streets, 718-638-8194. Hours: Tuesday-Friday 12-7pm, Saturday 11am-8pm, and Sunday 12-6pm; closed Mondays.
Photos via Petrune