On the outside, Dream Fishing Tackle (DFT) appears to be nothing more than, as the name suggests, a fishing store. The brick and mortar sports its original awning from the ’90s, now a dark shade of pink that suggests it was red in some past life. I can’t recall what first lured me into DFT on the day I moved to Greenpoint some years ago, but once I entered, I knew it was amongst the most unique establishments in the neighborhood. Years later, the sentiment stands.
This place is the Russian Doll of shops. Upon entering what I thought was merely a fishing supply store, I realized I’d walked into a vibrant thrift store. Not the kind that feels like a glorified suburban yard sale, either. My eyes darted from a framed Matisse print, to a perfect-condition mid-century modern dresser, to antique whisky tumblers. As I continued walking through, I found myself in a well-stocked record section, eyes pausing on a rare Monk and Coltrane album. With a few more bewildered steps I found myself, last but certainly not least, in the fishing section.
Every time I enter Dream Fishing Tackle, I know two things to be true: First, that I’m going to find something I want to take home, and second, that I’m going to say “Excuse me” at least four times.
At its narrowest parts, there is so little space to maneuver that you may find yourself playing a game of horizontal limbo, but with another person’s body instead of a pole. This might sound unappealing, but it’s part of the charm of visiting the DFT — knowing that you’ll have to say “sorry” repeatedly, while awkwardly smiling at a stranger, as your bodies graze past. It always feels a bit Canadian in there, with the apologies flying amidst the burlesque of vintage trinkets more audible than the records playing in the background. And you can count on a record playing in the background. You can also count on seeing Robert Pisorski, the original owner, delicately placing one on the turntable.
With so much quirk and charm, I’ve always wanted to hear the story behind the evolution of what started as a humble fishing supply store in 1994, and is now perhaps the most interesting shop in Greenpoint. The current co-owner, Barbara Piskorsa, was kind enough to indulge my curiosities.
In speaking with Barbara, I sensed that the way in which the original Dream Fishing Tackle came to fruition was not so dissimilar to how its current state came to be: Someone tested out their passion as a business, and it worked. That initial someone, in this case, is Robert, Barbara’s father. He had originally been a jewelry engraver w, but his hobby was as a Carp Angler. Slowly, he started to display fishing supplies on a small table in the jewelry store, only to glean that there was significant demand for supplies among the Polish men in Greenpoint. Not long after, the notion of starting Dream Fishing Tackle shifted from, well, “dream” to reality.
Fast forward from 1994 to 2011. Vintage furniture is as in vogue as ever, and vinyl’s steadily cruising on its comeback. Barbara, who’d grown up with a penchant for interior design, hoped to start an interior decor and furniture shop of her own in the increasingly hip neighborhood. Just as she was about to put pen to paper on a lease down the street, her dad encouraged her to test out selling thrift in his fishing shop before putting all her eggs in one basket. He granted her the “big window” to display furniture and lure people in. What started as a 500 square foot allotment for her passion project soon became 80% of the store, and the fishing supplies creeped ever back. Perhaps unintentionally, the store began to change with the neighborhood it resided in, adapting to the shifts in locale and culture.
A couple of years later, in 2013, Barbara stumbled upon a crate of records during a road trip. Thinking they’d make a nice addition to the interior decor of the shop, she purchased them. At that same exact moment, she got a call from her dad, who suggested they add some records to the store since patrons had been increasingly requesting them. As a test, they put out the crate in the shop. The records, mostly classic rock and the likes of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, sold in two days. DFT, which some argue has the best collection in the neighborhood, now sports over twelve thousand thoughtfully curated records. You’d expect that as the younger Piskorski, Barbara was the mastermind behind the record section, but it’s actually Robert who has a passion for music and sources most of the records.
“He transitioned his focus from fishing to the records, but he still has great fishing supplies and gives advice to anyone coming in to talk shop. He puts a lot of thought and care into which records we offer, and the clientele notice,” said Barbara of her father.
I can attest to the quality of record selection, and have found many turntable favorites in DFT. Unlike some other record stores in Brooklyn, you’ll also be spared of the pretentious high-brow cashier glazing over each of your purchases with assessing eyes. This unsuspecting father-daughter duo combined their dreams to create one of the most welcoming and eccentric shops in all of Brooklyn. It’s also worth noting that DFT’s special qualities lie not just in its aesthetics, but the feel of the place.
“Personally, if I’m looking for inspiration or something for my house, I want to feel like I found it, and that it came from somewhere special. I like to make it like a treasure hunt, I don’t want to be too organized. I want people to come in and feel like it’s a little museum to hang out in, even if they’re not looking to purchase. A lot of people come in just to talk or hang out if they’re having a hard day, play a record, or just to get some inspiration for their homes or interior.”
Nothing bad ever came from dropping a needle on a record. I can’t think of a better local spot to do that than GFT. Perhaps the evolution story of DFT suggests the shop is not just the most interesting store in Greenpoint, but a daily neighborhood reminder that your notion of swapping your day job for your dream job isn’t such a stretch, afterall. You can find Barbara, Robert, and store manager Shalon Barley talking to patrons about fishing, interior decor, or music on any given day. In the age of Amazon, a multi-generational, family-owned, endlessly charming shop like Dream Fishing Tackle feels like a dying breed. If you don’t mind saying “excuse me” a few times, pay them a visit and see what Greenpoint’s Jack of All Trades shop is all about.