Ditmas Park/ Midwood/ Flatbush

Holy plaid pants—Canal Jeans lives on in Brooklyn!

Non-ironic polyester kids' pants: 3 for $25.
Non-ironic '70s kids' pants: 3 for $25.

Those who thought Canal Jeans had vanished from the city’s radar in 2002 were only partially right.

Since the Broadway location shuttered, it’s no longer a closet-refilling station for NYU students and New Jersey high-school kids dying to land “most individualistic” in their class superlatives. (Do they still have those?) But Canal Jeans, or at least an intriguingly decrepit version of it, lives on behind the Target on Nostrand Avenue, and it remains a place where the adventurous budgeteer could come away with a bag full of finds, if not an afternoon’s amusement.

For those who wander in unwittingly, easy enough to do since there’s no sign, an appropriate response is: WTF? When the Manhattan store shut down in 2002, they took whatever was left unsold—a combination of new and vintage goods—and sent it to this nondescript two-floor space (below) across from what is now the Target parking garage and next to a dubious-sounding beef retailer called “Meat Barn.” The Brooklyn Canal Jeans is apparently not well-known. “Am I the only person in New York whose is aware that this place still exists??” wrote the lone reviewer on Yelp, saying the place resembled “Moscow, circa 1985.” Pretty much, except they had bread lines and here there isn’t another soul around.


The Canal staff say they don’t get new stock, and are only around until they sell off all of the old stuff. But how to explain a Bionicles costume that had a Target label dated 2005, originally $24.99, marked down to $10, marked down to $1.99, and sold to a happy 6-year-old customer for $1, along with a cape and a mask, also a buck each?

Clothing-wise, the 10-for-$5 bins are full of Reagan-era relics: long-sleeve polo shirts that button all the way down, t-shirts cut off above the navel, but there are also Smith carpenter jeans and Levi’s for $10, along with racks of bookish camel blazers, 3 for $25. And what St. Ann’s parent wouldn’t beam with pride to send his shaggy-haired moppet off to school in a pair of vintage ’70s plaid slacks just like dad used to wear?  But wait, there’s more…

How can there not be a single cute dress in this $5 rack? How about the red-and-white one all the way left?


Do red tiger-print stovepipe jeans ever go out of style in BK? They say $25—what is this, Bergdorf’s?—but go ahead, make an offer.


At 2 for $5, the polyester lemon-yellow golf trousers come out to $2.50 each. OK, so there are about three skinny gay guys in Williamsburg who could get away with these, but if you’re out there…


From this angle, they look almost Meatpacking District-worthy. Chic blackout curtains?


It’s important to note that you will pass items like this:


Apparently it didn’t even sell in Moscow. Canal Jean Company, 2236 Nostrand Ave. between H & I,  718-421-7590


  1. Carol Millicent

    Hi would-be Canal Jean-CJ Shopper:
    in a word, “NO”; do something else
    self-destructive with your time & life; but,
    whatever you do pass on trekking from
    Manhattan or elsewhere … to
    CJ’s delightful “deep” BKLYN location.

    Rest assured that (a) train
    connections rate unreliable suddenly tagged
    “out of service”[fortitude: we had nabbed a MTA
    map at 14th Street, Union Square, Manhattan],
    (b) you’ll experience an endless
    “subway demographics education”, as to what
    c.1820-1950’s Brooklyn had been, but whose present
    reality — except for its buildings’legacy —
    proves dangerous, dark & depressing: DDD,
    (c) navigating to the store from the station
    can prove DDD {fair types ought wear tight
    knit hats and dark glasses: cover-up, or be
    hunted}, (d) store’s staff: weird & nuts!
    Store’s ans. device’s announcement proves,
    in retrospect, itself telling. In a foreclosed “new wave late 80’s” building; but, “NO BATHROOM for ANY customer”. Store closed suddently!

  2. C. Crown

    I’m going to take a wild guess that the poster above isn’t from NYC. Perhaps a transplant whose been to bushwick, williamsburg or greenpoint and has some bizarre gentrified idea of what Brooklyn actually is. When you’re in those neighborhoods, you’re basically in white middle america via Brooklyn. That’s not the Brooklyn that anyone born in Brooklyn actually knows. And if you’ve got enough money to live in Manhattan, chances are that neighborhood is like a foreign country to you.

    I’m over by Canal Jeans almost daily, I go to school over there. DDD? Fair skin types should be careful? I was over there today, and nearly everyday for the past few years, and half the people who live over there are Jewish. I guess they don’t count as “fair (skinned) types.” You don’t much whiter than me, I’m a shining beacon of whiteness, you need sunglasses to look at me, but I’ve never been bothered over there. So “cover up or be hunted”… that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve heard in a long time. And for the train ride, you’re taking the 2 all the way to the last stop, you expected that to be quick? Trains in all parts of NYC are screwed up daily, the 2 isn’t an exception. The longer your train ride, the higher the odds are that the train you’re on will be screwed up. Especially on weekends. Try getting to school there everyday.

    “Navigating” from the store to the station? I wouldn’t call that navigation. It is literally one block if you know which exit to use, or 3 if you get out at the totally opposite end. I was there today, in Canal Jeans, and got a nice vintage apron and girdle for 15 bucks.

    There isn’t much to be purchased there anymore though so it’s not really worth the trek if you’re coming from afar. But, there are a ton of old quirky things there for 5 bucks if you’re into that. The staff is quirky too, which isn’t a bad thing, as the above review implies.

    Also, if you *actually* have no money, and aren’t just a hipster trying to look poor while living off your trust fund- its worth checking out. You can get blankets for 10 bucks, sweaters for 5, underwear 4 for 10. If you’re someone who isn’t used to being around people who aren’t white, then don’t go there. It’s a mixed area, mostly people from Brooklyn or other countries; because the US transplants generally won’t venture that far out of Manhattan for an apartment. Which, honestly, is rather refreshing.

    Sorry if this response if rude, but I really get tired of people putting down neighborhoods in Brooklyn because they don’t know whats up.

  3. Sara Nordmann

    I like how the phone message says, “Anti-established since 1993.”

    Um, do you mean, anti-establishMENT? What a strange thing.

    I’ve been to that place several times, even though it is ungodly far-away from my neighborhood. So worth it. It’s my little vintage secret! (I have no clue how they stay open, though. I never seen anyone in there.)

  4. Sara Nordmann

    Addendum–I have no clue what that Carol Millicent lady is talking about. I never feel threatened over there. Clearly she is startled by the sight of black people. Guess what–they ain’t going anywhere, and they probably don’t care about your white ass!

    And yeah, I’m blindingly white, too. Like, so white I’m translucent.

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