What Kind of Storefront do Crown Heights Residents Need? — Brooklynian

What Kind of Storefront do Crown Heights Residents Need?

Perusing some storefront opening listings on Albany and Utica Avenues, I was wondering: are there any types of businesses in this southeastern portion of Crown Heights that residents would want? What would you like to see? What do you think would do well?


  • Those are both north/south streets.

    Can we get an east/west street, to get a better idea of the location?
  • Sorry, left that out--most available are around Union, President, Carroll on the cross
  • Are you a broker-type who is going to pitch these storefronts to others, or are you going to operate this yourself?

    The patronage of orthodox Jewish folks in the neighborhood might not be able to be counted on, unless you or the renter is from within that community.

    So, we should probably focus our thinking on the means and preferences of the non-Orthodox.
  • I live in the area and am half-serious about inquiring about the spaces. On the other hand, I'm just curious. I'm Jewish by descent but not part of the local observant community.
  • I will assume you don't want to work 90 hours a week, because you would do better remaining at you current job for the effective hourly wage that results.

    So, food service and bodegas are out. Lets think about things that require more capital, and less work...

  • Perusing some storefront opening listings on Albany and Utica Avenues, I was wondering: are there any types of businesses in this southeastern portion of Crown Heights that residents would want? What would you like to see? What do you think would do well?
    Maybe the thread title should be amended to reflect that you are asking specifically about southeastern Crown Heights. What may work in southwestern or noerthwestern Crown Heights may not work in southeastern Crown Heights. :) 
  • Albany and Utica avenues, south of EP, are totally different areas with very different wants/needs.  Besides, Albany only has commercial between EP and Union, and if I recall correctly, there isn't much availability there.  

    Have you thought about Troy?  There are quite a few empty storefronts from EP all the way to Empire.
  • As a result of my impression of the area, I have decided that a name brand paint store would now do well in the area.

    Benjamin Moore, I am looking at you.


    I believe they are individually owned and operated. By selling quality paints, one could appeal to residents who increasingly have the means and desire to improve their homes, yet don't have the resources to hire a pro.

  • Benjamin Moore paints are already available in that area, just two blocks south of Empire, at the Hardware Express True Value store on East New York Ave between Troy and Schenectady. 
  • edited August 2014
    Drat. Those places did not come up on the yelp map. So, nix that.

    Let's see what else is on my list of things that are able to be supported (but are often not yet present) in a neighborhood that has recently gone from how "wealthy it was" to how "wealthy it is":

    -a decent dry cleaner
    -an Indian restaurant
    -a non-bullet proof Asian restaurant, ie sit down Thai or sushi.
    -a pet supply or grooming business.

    Are those things around? @Matthewtaub1 do you have any desire to run one of those?

    In addition to the area being able to support a business, he is going to have some passion for the business for this to work.

  • A business doesn't have to be of a new type to be successful. All it has to do is be better than what's there now or offer different items which is why a Starbucks and a Dunkin's can be next door to each other and still make money. They both sell coffee but they do it in different ways.
  • Yes. Customer loyalty does not last long when it is not in their self interests.
  • edited August 2014
    I think you'll have less switch from "how wealthy it was" to "how wealthy it is" on that side of EP. The housing stock has a lot more single family homes and fewer apartment building especially east of Bedford. The apartments are in high demand by the Orthodox community and they are aggressive about purchasing vacant large lots to put up additional developments catering to their community where possible (see ENY and NY Avenues). The non-orthodox single families tended to be held by stable Caribbean and African American families and there isn't nearly as much stock available. That part of the neighborhood had a LOT less supportive housing type programs than the north side (many of which have been converted to market rate apartments). There haven't been the kind of game changing large scale developments for gentrifiers (like the Jewish Hospital complex) that would result singlehandedly in a concentrated mass of young non-black affluents moving in (thereby attracting more young non-black affulents).

    Rather than going from what feels like a 60% African American- 40% Orthodox mix, I think you'll end up with something closer to a 45/45/10 mix over there. So, while a dry cleaner might work, food is going to be harder as it will need to either be Kosher, or serve some Kosher items in order to attract all groups within the community. I'd think a little more out of the box, perhaps something that would cut across cultures. Electronics store that is a certified Apple repairer? Eyeglass retailer that stocks both the plain frames considered frum by the devout community and frei items like designer frames and sunglasses? Perhaps a UPS store that was open seven days a week to pick up items?
  • edited August 2014
    I agree, and like the Mailboxes Etc idea.

    If I were a craftsman (plumbing, electrician, etc), I'd start parking my vans in the area and advertising there.

    My impression is that the area doesn't yet have the money for "dumpsters on the street" (ie gut renovations), but is certainly able to do work that falls below the level that requires a work permit:

    -run some new pipe

    -switch from electric to a gas stove.

    -replace that water heater that was supposed to be replaced in 2000.
  • I don't know. Lots of the folks that I know that live over there are long-time owners with no mortgage. They do regular upkeep, but not a lot of the gut renovation type jobs you see with newly purchased properties.
  • edited August 2014
    They are our target audience. What could now survive in the neighborhood that previously could not?

    What do people presently leave the neighborhood to shop for?

    How about a karate studio? They seem to do ok in neighborhoods that have some disposable income, but not lots.
  • What about the mandatory coffee shop/smoothie bar? Is there anything like that over there?
  • edited August 2014
    There are coffee shops (Bunch of Bagels on Troy near Carroll, and several on Kingston) but each seem to caters to a mostly Orthodox crowd.   As homeowner hints, the area doesn't have a lot of young, privileged, educated, earn-my-living by writing types that are not orthodox.         

    In my view, this makes opening something on Albany Ave difficult, because it seems like it is mostly ignored by folks headed to the far more established business district on Kingston Ave.  

    So, Utica Ave is where I would locate my Karate studio.   I'm also kicking around a (gasp) 7-11.   It would be better than the local bodegas, and take advantage of the heavy foot traffic.   

  • there is a mailboxes etc-type store on albany between empire and lefferts that lets you receive packages. it's only open 6 days a week (closed on saturday). 

    agree with homeowner. you have to know your market in that particular part of town. 

    maybe a cellphone store? not sure how those make money but something like metroPCS seems to be everywhere. 
  • I don't know how those cell phone stores work. Are they rented by the corporation, who then hires the staff?

    If so, there is no money for an entrepreneur there.

  • Maybe a dance studio or yoga studio that had both single sex and co-ed classes and classes for adults and kids? Or a store that sold cookware, baking supplies, etc? A bike shop?

    Actually, in a perfect world I'd find a warehouse space and re-open Hitters, Hackers, and Hoops. It was indoor basketball, minigolf, and arcade space that used to be on 18th Street in the city back in the 90's. The space had a liquor license and had a bar upstairs with pool tables and plenty of televisions to watch sports. They also served bar type appetizers (wings, fries, etc). Its the perfect business for a community that has a lot of kids, people with diverse interests, young singles, and older folks
  • edited August 2014
    It would not surprise me if the M1 district of Crown Heights hosted such a use soon. There, it could take advantage of relatively low rents, bored folks with money, and big, unfinished spaces.

    At present, the most high profile business on that stretch of Utica seems to be Conrads bakery, so I think any business that tries to compete with them would be crushed.
  • I'm familiar with the north end of Albany.  There's a building with newly renovated retail at Pacific St.

    Think a baby store is still a good idea.  There are many parents in the neighborhood.  Not an easy business though.  Stork had the right location but rarely had products that made sense for my family.

  • edited August 2014
    I can't imagine how a baby store is a good idea anywhere, and I have a 3-year-old and another one on the way.  Most parents I know have such a surplus of baby crap they got from relatives and friends and hand-me-downs that they'd never shop retail for this stuff, and the staples are better covered by the likes of Amazon and Target.  Not to mention that these places are invariably expensive boutiques.  Someone mentioned on another thread that Stork was the place you went to for a last-minute baby shower gift, which is a very limited audience.

    For my part, the last thing I leave the neighborhood to buy is fresh bread, and the first thing that I see going up in any neighborhood 'in transition' are upscale bodegas, followed by bars and restaurants.  Those are the vanguard of redevelopment.

    Personally, I would like to see some honest-to-goodness thrift stores that sell practical items for reasonable prices.

  • I don't know that we "need" it, but I think a pinball and beer place would be a huge hit.  This is a thing again.

This discussion has been closed.