is by no means a new arrival in Forest Hills, or New York City's vintage scene.
In fact, as vintage stores go, Instant Replay is, well, vintage.
Sitting in the same block of Austin Street for the past 35 years, the shop has a reputation for unusual pieces and remarkable finds.
Indiana Jones on Austin Street
An unassuming storefront — there's no awning or even a sign — disguises a packed house that trades in everything from costume jewelry to ancient antiques. It's a kind of self-service study in anthropology
"Every day is different, that's what makes this business interesting, you don't know what's going to walk in the door," said owner Marc Pine, who started the shop as a clothing store in the 70's. "Each thing has a story, it's all interesting if you look around."
Pine's not joking; standing in his shop on a Thursday afternoon, a customer could see a five-foot-long 17th Century painting, a rack full of women's furs, and a 2,000 year old Han Dynasty pot, perched on a high shelf.
And the customer would have to be standing. The place is so packed there's nowhere to sit down.
One of the most interesting stories Pine remembers is buying a diary as part of a customer’s personal collection sold to the shop.
“I got [the diary] from a lady whose husband was a doctor in the army, World War 2, a captain, and he was in charge of the maps for the landing on D-Day, for his group,” Pine said. “I got the maps, top secret maps, what beach they were landing on, and the direction they were going to go, that was very cool.”
Pine said he eventually sold the maps to a buyer on eBay, in an effort to give more than just walk-in buyers a chance to see them.
“That was something that really had to be exposed.”
Keeping the Doors Open
Pine credited his decade-spanning presence to a business model that he called “backwards to the economy.”
When the recession hit, a lot of people had to sell stuff and a lot of people bought because they wanted to get the high-end things for less money,” Pine added. “So they buy a second-hand item. My business is very strong in recessions.”
Pine doesn't store anything in a second location or facility, his shop, while crowded, is a lesson in "what-you-see-is-what-you-get." He's never felt the need to move or expand because, he said, his landlord has been one-of-a-kind in the city.
"Stores come and go because they don't have a lot of time to build up a customer base, they've got to sell to make rent in places that are $6,000 or $10,000," he said. "We've had a lot of time."
One thing he would change? The name of the store.
"Instant Replay — it kind of sounds like a sports bar," he said. "I wouldn't call it that now."