Calling all lovers of rare finds, transparent trades, and reality TV: Billy Buys Brooklyn follows Greenpoint’s very own William Leroy, often joined by his wife, Lorraine Leckie, as he adventures to every thrifted corner of the northeast in search of antique gems for his shop, Billy’s Antiques, on Greenpoint Avenue.
Filming mostly around the Greenpoint area, Billy Buys Brooklyn (available on Discovery+) pays homage to the rich, quirky, and wondrous oddities that sprinkle our artistically abundant neighborhood, as well as the folks who come to appreciate the special spot. In addition to his keen eye for hidden treasure, fans also appreciate Leroy’s consistent price transparency and his wealth of knowledge for the pieces he acquires. Leroy notes that aside from matchmaking these items to people who appreciate them, his favorite part about the job is teaching others about the history behind his props.
“We try to tell a little bit about the history of the piece, you learn something. That was important for Discovery,” Leroy said.
Opened in 2020, Billy’s Antiques is the second antique shop owned by Leroy, preceded by the infamous Lower East Side shop, Billy’s Antiques & Props. The shop, which opened in the 1980s, was taken over by Leroy in 2002 and closed in 2012 due to gentrification. A gloom fell over the neighborhood as they watched the last standing representation of the old Bowery shut its doors, but the stories from those decades on the Bowery live on. (Just ask — he has loads of stories!)
“I went to art school and graduated and worked in advertising as a junior art director and would [often] go to the flea market,” Leroy told Greenpointers. “One time I found a painting for $2,000 and sold it for $18,000 at Sotheby’s. The very next week I handed in my resignation and said ‘I’m out, I want to buy and sell for a living.’ I was 27 at the time and I’ve been buying and selling ever since.”
Leroy’s break in TV came when he made an appearance as an appraiser on American Pickers in 2010. Shortly after, he was picked up for the reality TV show, Baggage Battles, of which he starred in five seasons between 2012-2016. As luck would have it years later, the same production company that produced Baggage Battles decided to launch Billy Buys Brooklyn contingent on the opening of Billy’s Antiques. Now back on TV while simultaneously running an antique store again, this full circle moment is not lost on Leroy and Leckie. With one season under their belts, Leroy and Leckie said that there might be a season two on the way!
Lorraine Leckie and William Leroy have been living in Greenpoint since 1998 and when they’re not working on a TV show or in the shop, they’re hitting the town for some music. Leckie has been performing for decades as a singer, songwriter, and guitar player with her electric rock group, Lorraine Leckie & Her Demons. Notably, though she doesn’t often play non-original work, Leckie agreed to record a cover of “Dirty Old Town” by the Pogues with Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre for a 2012 indie film, Dirty Old Town, which starred Leroy and his original shop on Bowery.
When Leckie takes the stage, Leroy takes a behind-the-camera role as a music director and videographer. Lorraine Leckie & Her Demons perform frequently at Pete’s Candy Store and performed most recently at Mercury Lounge on Houston Street, a video of which you can watch here.
These two kind-hearted, inspired minds never seem to stop creating, so be sure to keep an eye out for more Leroy-Leckie collaborations on screen, on stage, and behind the counter at Billy’s Antiques!
Make an appointment to drop by the store by calling 917-576-6980 or go to www.billysantiques.com to schedule your visit and learn more. And of course, keep an eye out for your favorite Greenpoint spots when you watch Billy Buys Brooklyn on Discovery+.