Down and Out in Brokelyn! Interview with Faye Penn, Editor of, Offers Up Cheap Tricks

January 26th, 2010 |


Rocky and her dog, Yo Adrianne, are living large in Brooklyn. She spent several years coordinating the restoration and theatrical, festival, and DVD release of the films "El Topo" and "The Holy Mountain" by the infamous director, Alejandro Jodorowsky. In 2008, she began working on her ongoing "Pardon Me, Dolly!" film. She is currently working on starting a non-profit library out of the 1973 RV she traveled coast to coast in last summer. Rocky also shot a man in Reno once, just to watch him die.

Penny Pinchers Unite! Save your “I can’t afford to” speech, the totally annoying excuse for not doing ANYTHING GOOD since Little Bush moseyed back to Texas and left us all scrapping for change. We have all had to make some sacrifices; for me it was my weekends filled with Bloody Mary brunches.

If Netflix is your only financially sound entertainment expense, and your food pyramid consists of 3 parts cereal, 2 parts soup, and 2 parts samples from tables at Trader Joe’s,     it might be time to check into With tons of tipsters scouting for deals and an army of frugal-friendly writers, this site is a bounty of thrifty picks that will make your meager budget look like you hit the goddamned lottery.

I got to interrogate the editor, Faye Penn, about how it all started:

RM: So, Faye, you also work at InStyle Magazine as a Style & Error columnist and have a good deal of other notable work. It seems like you wouldn’t need to be bargain hunting. What made you decide to start a website devoted to undiscovered deals?

FP: I was freelancing in the home section of InStyle, watching this daily delivery of gorgeous home accessories I couldn’t afford but desperately wanted nevertheless.
I decided that my life’s work would be finding a way around the pesky problem of having more taste than money.

RM: I kind of picture you having some revelation about starting the site during a free breakfast at IKEA. Where were you when you came up with the concept for Brokelyn?

FP: I was trying to pay for dinner at Jean-Georges with food stamps. No, actually, come to think of it, I was talking to my friend David Wallis of on the phone and we were batting around post-magazine schemes. We only talk a few times a year but they’re always those “what do you think of this – a nursing home for aging codfish… ” kinds of conversations.

RM: You guys have been running the site since May of last year. What were your favorite and strangest finds?

FP: My favorite is still the store Amazing Savings on Avenue M, where I bought a set of gorgeous Tyler Florence for Mikasa dishes for eight for under $100, including soup bowls, salad and dessert plates, a fish platter, and a salad bowl. The strangest would have to be the collective category of things offered for free on Craigslist and Brooklyn FreeCycle.        I once saw a decomposed motorboat on Craigslist. And the other day, someone on FreeCycle was looking for men’s cologne – any kind, half-used okay.

RM: Yeah, I once saw someone trying to barter an unopened bag of fancy liquorish on Craigslist. I replied for the sake of meeting someone who would barter candy.

RM: People that send in tips that get posted on the site get a free t-shirt. I imagine you have seen people wearing the shirts on the subway and on the street. Do you approach them and find out which one they sent in?

FP: No, because I instinctively know just by looking at a person whether she’s the one who eats $1 breakfasts at Key Food or gets $25 haircuts in Bay Ridge.

RM: Have you ever published a deal that turned out to be false?

FP: I’m pretty sure that tip about 50-cent sliders at Peter Luger‘s was a wash.

RM: Yeah, never heard of sliders at Peter Luger’s, maybe it was some mix up with White Castle. Would you consider punishing this burger lover by raiding their closet for the t-shirt?

FP: No, because even propagators of bad information look good in Brokelyn t-shirts. Everyone does.

RM: Everybody likes to get the best deal, but some of your followers are probably unemployed, desperate, and penniless. So, what they most need to know, are you guys hiring?

FP: We’re an all-volunteer site, except when I drum up projects that produce revenue and am able to share the love. We’re always hiring volunteers, though, and don’t discriminate against the unemployed, desperate and penniless. On the contrary.

RM: Nice, a site run by impoverished volunteers! So now, my personal question, do I get a free t-shirt for this post? If so, I’m a medium.

FP: I forgot to mention that people who publish interviews with me on blogs are also eligible for free t-shirts. Send me your address.

RM: Oh yeah!! Check your inbox!!

Yep, so living big is easier than you think. I also have to mention that the layout for this site is very well done, with categories designated to specific needs, like Food & Drink, Outings, and the critical Shopping category. And if you have questions about your own financial bind, write to their Dear Penny column.

For the sharpest deals in NYC that won’t break the bank, subscribe to Brokelyn and add them on your Facebook and Twitter to get your daily dose from the royally cheap site. And if you yourself are holding out with some sweet freebies, just remember you’ll score a sexy cool t-shirt if your tip gets posted!

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Rocky Mills
  • jlo0312

    Nicely done! Especially the part about Bloody Mary lunches! Mmmm.

  • elissa brost

    This article makes me want to come back and for a visit, despite my limited financial resources…at least I have air miles! eb

    • Rocky Mills

      Come out here and pull your purse strings with me!

  • Horses For Sale

    This web know me that how to want coming back, visiting and although we have some problems.

  • Alex Johnson

    Very helpful information. I bookmarked it. Thanks.

    Jessica S.

  • David Baptiste

    Helpful article, thanks. I've switched over to bartering recently for most of anything I can get without having to shell out cash. There are a couple sites out thereto use, to connect with people who are looking to barter trade/swap items or even services (carpentry work for auto work, etc). One of the sites I use is Baarter –