Black Gold: The most lovely and curious coffee shop/record store/taxidermy museum in Carroll Gardens
Photo by Joshua Kristal
Hmmm, where to go around here for rare Victorian taxidermy, excellent coffee, delish small-batch pastry and a fine and curated selection of vinyl, from unopened Led Zeppelin to Brooklyn indie to limited edition soul and funk? Hmmm… no, no, not Williamsburg.. oh yes, of course, Court Street’s Black Gold.
Black Gold is a real treat, located on the once sleepy southern drag of Court Street, between 4th Place and Luquer, near trendy restaurants Prime Meats and Buttermilk Channel and the new Court Street Grocers.
The shop offers a highly-curated selection of records, rare taxidermy and collectibles/gifts, at moderate prices, from opera glasses to fortune-telling tea sets to hand-painted photo albums. The coffee shop is open weekdays at 6 a.m.
Sommer Santoro and the Botswanian Hyena
Black Gold owners Jeff Ogiba, 30, a former logo and branding designer, and Sommer Foster Santoro, 31, an artist, grew up in New Jersey, where they felt out of place, and moved around a bit. Ogiba grew up with Santoro’s husband, Daniel. When the economy crashed, and things weren’t going too well, the friends decided to launch their own thing. Ogiba brings the records; Santoro, the service and decor, and Santoro’s husband collects the antiques, art and taxidermy for sale.
The store’s record selection features “interesting, collectible” albums, “things you can’t find elsewhere,” Ogiba says, with an emphasis on psychedelic rock, soul, funk, jazz, and, as Ogiba says, “whatever.”
The records have to be “in really, really good condition,” for Black Gold to buy them, Ogiba says. “We’ve never had a return for a scratch.”
Jeff Ogiba and the screaming bear
“If we’re all going to give up and go to hell, at least the music will be good,” Ogiba says. He designed the font and logo on the street front in a style that sort of sums up the feel of new Brooklyn–stubbornly old-fashioned yet gilded, sleek.
Upon entering the shop you’ll notice right away among the curiosities the tiny museum of taxidermy, including an award-winning stuffed hyena (who knew the dog-like creatures were so big?) and a tiny brown bear standing on two legs, yelling, mouth wide, and holding a little ash tray/candy bowl. A display of rare tropical birds features what appears to be a tiny toucan, in addition to a dozen small brightly-colored creatures. The bird display is the work of John Leadbeater, a well-known taxidermist of his time in 1880s London (“That thing is barely legal,” Ogiba quips.)
Taxidermy sales over the past year at the Court Street shop include three raccoons, two foxes, a few squirrels and four deer heads, with and without their feet. The hyena, actually, was for sale, until the owners entered it into a taxidermy contest, and it won, and now it’s a bit of a celebrity.
The records sell from $3 to $300; the taxidermy, from $100 to $1,200 for the Leadbeater bird display.
From records to collectibles, “we’re obsessed with keeping it high quality,” Ogiba says.
The place is very pleasing; it’s offerings, high quality, and not easy to find. And so of course it’s been discovered. Black Gold is pretty busy on the weekends.
“It’s been fire-hazard-busy in here on Saturdays,” Ogiba says.
If you want to browse in peace, check it out on weekdays.
461 Court, between 4th Place and Luquer
Mon: 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tues, Weds: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Thurs, Fri: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sat: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sun: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To read more about truly excellent things on Court Street, check out South Brooklyn Post coverage (yes, we risk becoming the Court Street Reporter, but there’s just so much going on these days):
Court Street is the New Smith Street
Van Horn Sandwich Shop (at Bergen): great pulled pork, fried chicken sandwiches, crisp interior design and fun, casual bar
Karloff: Eastern-European cooking, rich, fine coffees, outrageous ice cream, serving breakfast all day, lunch and dinner
Brucie: Cozy, stylish decor, sinful pastas and meats, homestyle Italian dinner, specialty Italian groceries/charcuterie/cheese
Palo Cortado: Tapas, wine, rare sherry and a truly special white Sangria
Cozbi: Handmade dolls collected by Oprah; handmade dresses and skirts for women, girls and babies
Olaf: New York Magazine’s pick for best men’s vintage clothing
Ruby Moriarty: Handmade skirts, children’s ties, and assortment of clothing and home accessories
Store 518: A fashionable selection of candy, toys and clothes
And not to forget the old staples: Fragole’s–great value, delicious, classic Northern Italian for good prices; and
Le Petit Cafe offers seating in an absolutely gorgeous skylit cafe thick with tropical plants, ferns, moss and greenery, running stone water fountains, and metal sculpture.