Video store on Washington Ave — Brooklynian

Video store on Washington Ave

Is anyone else completely fed up with the sketchy "video store" between Sterling and St. John's? It seems ridiculous that CB8 is concerned with legitimate businesses like Washington Commons, but all the noise/activity on that block never gets any complaints.


  • edited March 2015

    Welcome Heightsmom!

    I think we last had a good discussion about the video store and the sidewalk in front of it, about a year ago, after a guy was murdered:

    Here's what I wrote:

    Preliminary Research has led me to hypothesize the following:

    1. This drug location seems to predominantly serve a long term clientele. Without request, drugs are not offered to people merely in the area, or simply barbershop patrons.

    2. Marijuana and crack are available.

    3. A key aspect of the aforementioned defunct video store is its restroom. It's availability to those who sell drugs as well as those who "merely hang out with the people who sell drugs" (?), is essential to allowing a constant presence.

    4. For the last year or so, The proprietor of the Kareem deli (on corner of Washington and St Johns) tells people that hanging out and dealing is not permitted in front of the store. This has not always been the case.

    5. As alluded above, I have concluded some guys are dealing, while others play roles that are less clear. On a hot day, both groups seem to enjoy rum fortified punch. On this issue, I share common ground with them.

    6. My hypotheses may change as research continues.






    If you put a little thought into it, the Washington Avenue situation isn't too much of a mystery.

    781 Washington Avenue provides 63+ units of heavily subsidized housing for single adults. However, the building itself remains under the radar. Tenants are informed that using their apartments as a drug dealerships or party zones will result in eviction. The same consequence befalls those who hang out in front of the building.

    The result? Compliance. Very few people hang out in front of the building. SOME of the tenants hang out nearby....

    Don't like it? Tough luck. The building has a contract in place with Section 8 that won't let the landlord "gentrify it" for several more years. The tenants have leases that provide them with rights of all tenants in NYC.

    ICL provides 30 apartments in the immediate area that serve a group that is even more "addicted", "problematic", "in need" (choose your favorite, or substitute your own word).

    ...and there are lots of other factors, such as folks of all classes who enjoy an evening blasted on quality Kronic.

    Suffice it to say, the housing provider and non-profit I chose didn't create these people; it isn't reasonable to expect them to magically change them.

    Despite the fatigue that has set in when you have someone who has been in and out of jails and rehabs since they were a kid. They are paid to keep talking about AA/NA.

    The same could be said of the criminal justice system. Despite the fatigue that has set in when they have arrested someone dozens of times, the police are paid to arrest people yet again.

  • Despite all of that, it wouldn't seem to be much of a task to put the whole operation out of business. A few visible members of the law enforcement type would likely do the trick. There is not a lot of subtly going on there. That that hasn't happened yet (despite all the changes on the block) leads one to suspect something else is going on.

  • edited March 2015

    What is occurring is merely supply meeting demand. With demand so local, I can't see supply going away.

    While it does not appear to be in involved in the drug trade, Kareem Deli is pretty immune from the pressures of gentrification as a result of having such a local customer base.

    771 Washington Ave.

    Hanging out is not permitted in front of Kareem Deli. The owner does not allow it.

  • edited March 2015

    Now, lets take a stroll down the block.

    The first place we encounter is a Carib food place, 3Ds, (771 Washington) which is often the site of people congregating in front of its storefront.

    It is also a supplier of fruit punch, which the guys then fortify with rum as they spend the day in front of 3-Ds and the store front to the left (the former video store).

    The former video store seems to allow bathroom use to known persons.

    [Sorry, I don't have a stand alone photo of the Video store. Put the photos together]

    Continuing down the block...

    To my amazement, the owner of the natural juice/salad place at 769A Washigton is able to keep guys from hanging out in front.

    Although dated, I include the below photo to show that the guys used to spend a great deal of time hanging out in front of 763 Washington Avenue (the storefront on left), back when it was vacant. This storefront has since been converted into a dentists office, and they are now less welcome.

    Can we blame the barbershop? Not in my mind. Not only do people actually get their haircut there, I have actually heard barbershop owners (right side of photo) state "if you are going to get a haircut, come in. Otherwise move on. There ain't no line". So, I have hard time blaming them.

    Likewise, the people who run Happy Cleaners (765) have managed to convince guys that they can't hang out in front of there.

    ...all of this is sharp contrast to the former video place, where:

    1. No one actually rents videos, in large part, because there are no videos or DVDs available to rent, and technology moving on in approximately 2006.

    2. One can use the bathroom after one has had lots of rum fortified fruit punch.

  • The Natural Blend guys seem to be a legit, family business. No qualms with them. In the four years I've lived off Washington, I've see the same characters circulating in and out of the barbershop, the video store and 3Ds. However, every time there's a fatality on the block (cab driver in 2009, the girl in the apartment fire, and the shooting in front of Eve's last year) and the NYPD place some new guy on 24-hr patrol, the block is transformed. Too bad it only lasts about a week.

  • edited March 2015


    Hence, my premise that this is a demand problem.

    ...folks are not traveling "here" because of the supply.

    The supply comes to them. They live "here".

    Supply always meets demand.

    The police can't really move this scene as a result....

  • I'm not suggesting police ask members of the community to leave, or stop congregating, but it seems that something could be done about the supply.

    What I find most astounding is that the video store doesn't even make an attempt to function as a reputable and/or profitable business, yet this goes on. How do they pay their rent each month?

  • I can only think of two ways:

    1. They have been around so long that they own the building, and their newer neighbors are their tenants.


    2. Illegal activity.

    BTW, the 769 building seems to encompass 2 storefronts: Eve's Bar, the Natural Food place.

    771 seems to be the address of the former video store, and 3-D's. It was once known as Malinda's and William Jr Video Store:

    Kareem's Deli occupies 773.

  • 767 seems to remain vacant.

    It is the one to the right of Happy Cleaners, with the burnt out third story and the former computer place on the first floor. If it was bought and renovated, it may help....

  • edited March 2015
    Over a year passes:

    The landlord of 781 Washington Avenue has apparently expressed a desire to stop participating in the Section 8 program.

    Many Section 8 vouchers are awarded to people with substance abuse and/or psychiatric disorders, in order to allow them a place they can live while only receiving SSI as income.

    This will radically change the economic viability of the strip of stores discussed in this thread.

    ...expect them to slowly close and/or retool to meet the needs of other customers.

    I've created a separate thread re: flipping of 781 Washington.
  • edited September 2014
    That block still kills me. Why are people paying over $1M for 2br condos or upwards of $4000 in rent around the corner from these stores?

    This is interesting news about 781 Washington, though. I noticed a while back that more buildings on Classon are being renovated for market rate apartments, as well.

    I'm mixed. While I want my neighborhood to offer more businesses I'm inclined to frequent, the thought of people losing their homes is unsettling. That said, if I were buying my apartment today, I wouldn't be able to afford it. If I were renting, I'd be priced out pretty soon.
  • edited March 2015
    As documented elsewhere (everywhere?), the economics of NYC are presently doing a really bad job of providing "middle income", non subsidized housing.

    Landlords have two choices: Take government programs, or go market.

    Landlords are going to do what is best for them.

    We don't have to want this change to occur, for it to occur.

    It has a life all its own....
  • You can buy illicit drugs all over, west village etc... There are many stores, well technically there are much less now, that are fronts for all kinds of activities. Selling drugs, and tobacco products/alcohol that has ben acquired questionably or is not authentic.

    Police detectives know the places that sell and most times ( store fronts and private residences), unless pressured by the community for a long long time or if something comes down from the top, they simply bust the buyers or street level dealers.

    The amount of heroin, weed and nowadays to a lesser extent crack and powder cocaine is jaw dropping. The police often make arrests year after year, mostly in the summer at the same spots all over this dual neighborhood area. The area near the video store is one of them, as is the playground new the school on Park Pl. and a few corners up and down Franklin, Bedford and Nostrand.

    So I guess I mean to say, there are drug dealers selling in every neighborhood of NYC, it's just that some have people hanging out front chilling, kicking it, watching out, and some don't.
  • edited September 2014
    Yup. Soon this strip will change. I predict 2015.

    BTW, here's a somewhat local store that was recently closed for drug sales:

    I predict our "video store" will close without the intervention of law enforcement, the invisible hand discussed by Adam Smith will be all that is needed.
  • I noticed a DOB work permit on the door today. Could something be happening?
  • edited March 2015
    I have also noticed construction in the long stalled dentist office that is located to the right of Thirftway.,+Brooklyn,+NY+11238/@40.673877,-73.963012,3a,75y,84.79h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sle7I69zl2kgFX07LDtt8mw!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c25ba089030b4b:0x5e96effd6db0ffb6!6m1!1e1?hl=en

    Wise police departments often pick "now" to do enforcement, because the drug trade is already on the downturn and making a few very public arrests allows them to be credited with its demise.

    A noted above, why try to fight something at a moment in time when you know you will lose or look impotent?     
  • Wishful thinking. It was from 2014. Although, I've never noticed any working going on.
  • edited March 2015
    In my mind, the Kareem Deli is going to be the most interesting to watch.    

    Eve's, 3-Ds, Dry Cleaners and the Barbershop all have a customer base that are reasonably economically diverse.   As a result, I expect them to be able to adjust to the flipping of 781 Washington without a huge influx of capital or skill being required.

    I do not think the same of the Kareem Deli.     Its owners are going to need to majorly step it up in order to remain.    


  • The amount of heroin, weed and nowadays to a lesser extent crack and powder cocaine is jaw dropping. The police often make arrests year after year, mostly in the summer at the same spots all over this dual neighborhood area. The area near the video store is one of them, as is the playground near the school on Park Pl.
    Hmm, I live nearby and definitely see people hanging out there regularly and the occasional car stopping that looks like it could be doing a deal, but it seems like a bit of a crazy place to deal on account of it being line-of-sight to the detective castle, such that the detectives wouldn't have to move their cars from their parking spots to do surveillance.
  • I believe those detectives don't deal with day-to-day policing.
  • edited March 2015
    If my premise about this location only dealing to known local drug users is true, then I can't see any raid turning up more than a few hundred dollars worth of contraband.

    Such small cliques are difficult to infiltrate.    It is far easier for the police to make buy and busts in a more thriving, less discreet market that serves a more diverse clientele.   

    This area is far more "guys hanging out day after day", than "guys running a drug bazaar". 
  • Oh, I meant the playground on Park Place. I didn't quote specifically enough.
  • That's an SVU detective castle, isn't it?

    They don't give a rat's ass about drug dealing on Washington.

    The dealing on the corner is very open.  The crowd there is well-integrated into the foot traffic on the avenue though.  They're not bothering anybody.  They're reasonably friendly guys.
  • That's an SVU detective castle, isn't it?

    They don't give a rat's ass about drug dealing on Washington.

    The dealing on the corner is very open.  The crowd there is well-integrated into the foot traffic on the avenue though.  They're not bothering anybody.  They're reasonably friendly guys.
    Might be true that they are friendly guys.  But people have been murdered on that corner.
  • edited March 2015
    They have:

    A part of me fears that the guys on the strip will become more stressed out as a result of the changes at 781.

    Significant numbers of people are going to be affected, which may result in acts of desperation (ie violence) by the residents and those who make their living from them.

    Meanwhile, the capitalist in me looks at that one story corner filled with under capitalized storefronts and thinks a 6 story condo building would do really well there.

  • I noticed this corner deli seems to be closed as of last weekend.  Gates are down and I saw some workers moving items out last Saturday.  Any word on this?  I notice since the closing, the amount of loitering on this corner has definitely increased.
  • edited April 2015
    Interesting. The only intel I have is that about a month ago I overheard two of the guys who hang out in the area complain about how they are renovating the apartments at 781 Washington, but then leaving them vacant despite their apartments being "all broke up".

    I wanted to ask them if they knew when the building would stop participating in Section 8, but suspected that might be news to them and didn't think I had the cultural capital to pull off the conversation.
  • Just found this listing stating the property is for sale -
  • edited April 2015
    "769-773 Washington ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238 $4,200,000
    Lot size is 78.33 x 51.17
    Far is 4
    Total Buildable: 16,032
    District Code: C1-4/R7A
    Prime Prospect Heights!"

    Nice find JAB!

    That likely explains why Kareem's has closed.

    If the building sells quickly, an excavator could take out the remains of the Video Store this fall.

    Sadly, several other businesses will become rubble as well:
    Meanwhile, the capitalist in me looks at that one story corner filled with under capitalized storefronts and thinks a 6 story condo building would do really well there.

    With 16k BSF, "we" could get 12 two BR apartments, and (wait for it) a 4000 sq ft commercial space for something like a real drug store.

  • A real drug store would be huge for the neighborhood.  Thriftway is nice but its hours really don't cut it and its selection is lacking in many areas.  While we are at it, does anyone know what exactly is going on at 810 Washington and the vacant lot at 816 Washington? I would love to see this intersection take shape in the next few years.
  • edited April 2015
    810 Washington:

    816 Washington will be stuck under the end of time, because the property must become rent stabilized housing as a result of the landlord being um, "strongly suspected" in the fire that destroyed the rent stabilized building previously on the site. As I understand it this restriction can not be lost by selling the lot to parties uninvolved.

  • Time to add some better photos:

  • Former(?) Kareem deli is now gutted, and getting new facade. Good bye plexi glass.

  • Be still, my heart.
  • Former(?) Kareem deli is now gutted, and getting new facade. Good bye plexi glass.

    Yes, I've noticed that while riding my bike to Propect Park. Is this still going to be a bodega, albeit an upgraded bodega? Or are they going a completely different route here (restaurant, juice bar, etc.)? If you ask me, that block has enough on it already. I'm looking forward to stores filling in more units going north on Washington (past St. Marks). Yes, we have Gen, Almadria, The Saint Catherine, Washington Bagel Cafe (which is a major improvement on the businesses that used to be there, especially as they upgraded their facade), Vegetarian Palate, Blue Smoke Cigar Room, Kings Clam Bar, and Sapid Indian, but I wouldn't mind more. Call me greedy :D

    From my count, there are at least a few storefronts in this stretch that are either being built or being prepped for rental. 

    I wonder if the Hope City Empowerment Center Church will be bought out and replaced with something else. I also wouldn't mind seeing the liquor store go as it attracts (and has long done so) a rather shady crowd; the Beer Works, which is owned by the same guy as the liquor store and Brooklyn Sub, is fine. 
  • I suspect the answer depends upon whether the building is able to be sold for $4.2M.

    I can't imagine a new buyer trying to get an ROI on that investment from the present array of businesses. Instead, I imagine an excavator appearing.

    Meanwhile, if I presently owned the building and was looking for a buyer, I might get closer to my sales price by putting $15k into new glass and then having a short term tenant there. Optics help.
  • Update: I asked a guy who appeared to be supervising the operation, "still going to be a bodega?"

    He responded, "yea, nicer"
  • Today, workers put a red variety of stone tile down throughout. Also visible is a new deli case.
  • edited May 2015
    Kareem's is now known as Washington Goumet Deli. It might not sell beer.

  • edited May 2015
    If this lot is for sale, isn't it likely a developer will just knock this new place down?
  • edited May 2015
    They could buy it under the belief that it will continue to appreciate, and knock it down in a few years. Or, sell it to someone in a few years that knocks it down.

    It is hard to beat the present ROI for the area. By some measures it is 15% a year, for the last 10 years, compounding.

    Personally, I would knock it down after Washington is "fully gentrified" which is looking like 2017.

    However, If CVS told me they would sign a 20 year lease starting the moment it was ready to be occupied, I would buy out those tenants and begin demolition and construction.

    BTW, if this property sells, I think video store is history regardless of how long they hold the property.
  • That video store... I just don't understand how it still exists.
  • edited May 2015
    In addition to the roles described, it would not surprise me if the space served as a "office-workshop" for the building's super.
  • Upscale bodega now open:


  • That video store... I just don't understand how it still exists.
    A few weeks ago, a sign appeared above the video store announcing it is For Sale.   However:
    I can't find a real estate listing for it online,
    Find it hard to believe it is being sold as a stand alone lot, and 
    Am too lazy to actually call the real estate agent number.

  • I noticed the sign, too. Strange. Wasn't the entire building/lot for sale a few years ago?
  • What a crap bodega.  Another one where they let the corner guys smoke inside.  
  • Upscale grocers have taken the upscale customers, so the bodega is wise to welcome those who smoke and have lots of free time.

    They purchase profitable items and are loyal, even during inclement weather.
  • I thought all items in bodegas were profitable.  Lottery tickets maybe not as much (?)
  • Lottery tickets bring loyal customers in.
  • Except I mainly experience them just standing around the counter, blocking other customers, as they choose number after number and ticket after ticket, buying nothing else.  But yeah, I'm sure stores choose to sell these for good rea$on$
  • In addition to bringing in customers who buy other stuff, lottery vendors earn a 6% commission on every ticket sold.

This discussion has been closed.