Evan Nicole Brown
Very rarely is a store’s vibe so inviting that I feel magnetized to it, as if I can’t help but walk inside and see what exists beyond the window. On a particularly crisp afternoon in Ridgewood, I happened to walk past FEELS for the first time, and was drawn in like a moth to a flame. The store, all bright white and boldly designed, seemed like a curious mix of things: vintage clothing, quirky housewares, niche magazines. Turns out I was right, but there was even more to the sunlight-filled space than what immediately met the eye.
FEELS, a concept store dreamt up by husband-wife duo Patrick Noecker and Christine Costello, opened in late December of 2018. Prior to setting up shop in Ridgewood, Costello sold her vintage finds at places like the Hester Street Fair, Queens Flea Market, and at various pop-up events. It was during this experimental stage that her vision for FEELS began to sharpen. Costello knew her future storefront would be more than just a vintage clothing shop, but a branded lifestyle store filled with “well-made, interesting things.”
Costello and Noecker’s interest in developing a curated space for unique and high-quality objects came from a desire to create an extension of their home, which holds several pieces of art made by their friends. “Pat and I wanted to bring all our interests into a store,” Costello said. “We essentially brought our house [to the public.]” Between her interest in books and Noecker’s love of music, it’s safe to say they brought bits of their individual selves—in the form of rare texts and vinyl records—into FEELS as well.
“If Apartmento Magazine had a sister publication dedicated to small shops, I’m sure our hearts would have drawn inspiration from that,” Noecker said. “We love to explore relationships between home, objects, space, and art.” Noecker’s background in interior design helped bring this sensibility to life. According to him, the multi-white, multi-finish scheme was an intentional choice to showcase the bright versatility of the store’s merchandise—the ceramics, the plants, the textiles, the art. “We believe in the soul of objects and textures,” he added.
The husband and wife team also believes in supporting artists and friends. The incense you smell when you first walk through the door? Costello was buying it from a store in Greenpoint for her own personal use years before deciding to offer it to her audience. And the gallery-style, stark white walls lend themselves to Costello and Noecker’s commitment to displaying the work of their friends.
“We know everyone whose art is here,” Costello said. The artwork for sale at FEELS is rotated monthly, and Costello and Noecker host a gallery-style show opening each time, in an effort to create events for the community. And with the array of Ridgewood residents in mind, the business owners are committed to selling the work at reasonable prices so that art remains accessible for all.
Currently, Sto Len’s artwork is featured in the store. Len’s paintings are organic, full of colorful lines, and reveal new patterns and subtle nuances the more you look. “A Sun Ra record for your eyes,” said Noecker, describing Len’s otherworldly work. “It keeps on giving. And that’s the gift of good art. It just keeps on giving.”
It’s hard to imagine this shop and community-oriented gallery as its former self: a narrow tattoo parlor with electrical wires looping on the floor, a dropped ceiling, and inky walls. Today, FEELS feels refreshing, yet also classic, which is aided in part by its location in a historic residential building. “The building represents a time when things were built to last, to be life pieces, to be permanent rather than disposable, and to provide joy, much like the selection of goods in the store,” Noecker said.
In an effort to highlight the age and space of the building, Costello and Noecker painstakingly chipped away at plaster, repurposed vintage ceiling medallions, and made the decision to get the original stained glass banner at the top of their front window restored. Clearly, it’s the little things.
In FEELS’ first few months, the concept store has attracted a wide range of customers—from ages seven to 70. Past art show openings have been well-attended, and Noecker and Costello look forward to Mike Zimmerman’s upcoming show, Marshall Lacount’s new works, and Rachel Salomon O’Meara’s dadaist ceramic sculptures. The husband-wife team plans to continue to find what makes them (and their community) feel good, and then present it to their FEELS customer base. As Noecker put it: “It is more than just a business, it’s a place defined by the people who enter.”
Cover image courtesy of Pat Noecker, others by author.
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