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What Should Fill Park Slope’s Vacant Storefronts?

Our columnist conducted an unscientific survey of what new stores Slope residents would like to see open.

It’s downright depressing to see all the on Seventh and Fifth avenues, evidence of rising rents and tough economic times for retailers.

“One suspects they reflect rents that are too high for the market to bear. Vacant storefronts diminish our community's vitality,” wrote Ezra Goldstein, owner of Park Slope’s Community Bookstore, in an E-mail.

I recently asked a group of locals what they’d like to see go into some of those storefronts and encouraged them to have fun with their answers. “You can be practical or whimsical, creative or idealistic. Whatever you want,” I wrote in my email query.

As often happens when you ask questions of this nature people tell you what they DON’T want rather than what they do. 

“We do not need anymore bad salad bars, cell phone stores or cupcake joints,” said Tara Silberberg, owner of , a Seventh Avenue shop that specializes in handmade jewelry and wedding rings. She suggested a Kiehl’s shop, referring to the high quality skin and hair care product made from natural ingredients. “There’s also huge need for a real market on Seventh Avenue between Second and 12th streets. You can not buy a tomato until you get to 12th.”

Fonda Sera, the owner of, a local flower shop on Fifth Avenue now in its 30th year wrote: “I can come up with a lot of stores I don't want to see open, but how about bringing back Sew Brooklyn, which sold fabrics and was a haven for quilters and sewers?”

She used to think a Kosher deli was just what the neighborhood needed “but now many of us are too diet conscious to think about pastrami and kishke,” she added.

Rosemary Moore, a local playwright who runs the Six O’clock Shadow series at Barbes, writes that she would also like to see a Kosher deli like the Second Avenue Deli.

“A good spot would be the vacant Hollywood Video space on Fifth Avenue and Eighth Street.

, who writes the popular blog A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn thinks a good butcher shop is needed in Park Slope. “Or some kind of food store, like an indoor New Amsterdam Market where individual farmers, cheese-makers, candy makers, sell their stuff.  And maybe produce some items there.  And maybe have some demonstrations of bread-making.”

For Jennifer Schonborn, a holistic nutritionist, a shop that sold “local/organic/sustainably raised meats would be nice for those folks who don't belong to the food co-op,” she writes.

Caroline Ghertler, a set decorator for television and movies and my sister, would love to see a home furnishings store filled with lamps, rugs, fabrics, decorative objects and furniture.

Ghertler, who is starting an interior design business called Caroline Designs, said, “I would like see something at a reasonable price point yet filled with innovative designs from local artisans and designers, something akin to Gracious Home in the city yet without the high prices.”

LaRosa also pines for a home décor bazaar. “I would like to see an antique/junktique place—vintage stuff, some furniture, housewares and clothing.”

She also envisions “an incubator type space that would be subdivided so that individual artists, potters, clothing designers, etc. would have a small workspace and selling space.”

Schornborn thinks that the neighborhood could use a store specializing in soccer equipment. “Thousands of kids in Park Slope play soccer, and I generally have to go to Paragon in Manhattan whenever I need to buy cleats or other equipment for my kids,” she writes. “A Beacon's Closet type of second-hand clothing store, but for kids/pre-teens, would be also be great.”

Michele Madigan Somerville also suggested a store that sells resale shoes and skates for pre-teen and teenagers.

Wendy Ponte, a personal coach, think there should be a drop-in Life Coaching storefront. “Kind of like how Lucy from the Peanuts cartoons would put up a sign ‘counseling 5 cents.’ You know, if you feel overwhelmed you could just stop in and have a quick coach session on the way home from work, before going home to face tired and cranky kids.”

Peter March 07, 2011 at 06:23 PM
How much does a storefront space on 7th avenue cost? Or on 5th? What kind of lease duration is required? It's really easy to gin up suggestions on possible businesses that would be nice to have, but without some kind of discussion of costs, it's all wishful thinking. Can one actually run a fabric store with a monthly rent of $5,000/month? I assume it's very difficult, or we'd have 4 of them by now.
chuck goldman March 07, 2011 at 07:38 PM
Is there any place within miles where men can buy jeans, slacks, shirts or underwear? ( please no chains need apply)
Maria March 07, 2011 at 08:08 PM
We need a store like BJ'S in our area. The BJ'S we have in Brooklyn is far away for me since I don't have a car.
Amanda March 07, 2011 at 08:29 PM
A first class butcher shop is really needed here. I also really like the idea of good individual stands inside a larger space serving cheeses and bread. I remember a kosher deli which started on 7th Ave near Union Street a few years back. It didn't last. The quality of the menu items just did not make you feel like you were at Katz's. Maybe a deli with the taste of the real deal might be successful. Amanda
Millie Caputo March 07, 2011 at 09:15 PM
I would love to see an old 5 & dime store - same as the old woolworth back in the day that stood on 10th street & 5th avenue. A Traders Joe would be a great asset, I shop at the one located on Court Street. We have enought 99c stores, we need to add some class back to the area. Millie
Mike March 07, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Give us a good butcher!
Avi March 08, 2011 at 12:48 AM
I am a park slope landlord. Although rents have gone up in the area, I have kept the rent below market rent for my tenant because the business is a staple in park slope and I would hate to see it go. Its the kind of business that makes park slope unique. On that note, most of the businesses in park slope have closed because of the product and services they offer. I doubt a landlord would raise the rent from $2000 per month to $8000 per month and expect the tenant to happily pay. I would hate to see chain stores and franchises move into the area. I love the character and charm the small business owners bring. Hopefully other landlords feel the same and try to accommodate the tenants that made park slope as attractive as it is in the first place.
Jorge March 08, 2011 at 02:04 AM
I actually would love a spacious bar, such as Clover Club, where I could go after dinner and have both an excellent after-dinner drink and dessert. I'd love authentic, Astoria-quality Greek food. I'd love to be able to actually buy music in the North Slope again. I'd love a Lafreida burger. I want some damn Blue Bottle coffee outside of Williamsburg. Since we're all going to hell anyway, I'd love a Banana Republic, J Crew, and Baby Gap. :) Couldn't care less for a kosher deli. Do not need any more pizza, thai, or anything that uses the word "Cheeburger" more than once in its name.
Ian Smith March 08, 2011 at 02:36 AM
I third the request for a high-quality butcher. Carroll Gardens has that marked locked down in the area, and it'd be nice not to have to travel as far for a decent steak.
Jorge March 08, 2011 at 12:46 PM
M&S Prime Meats always looked the part to me, although I don't really use a butcher. Are people here saying that's not a good option as a butcher?
polly March 08, 2011 at 01:01 PM
I wish there were a Bolton's or something practical. The hallucinator who finds 99 cents stores on Seventh Avenue must have a rich creative life. I'd also like an old-fashioned 5 and dime. Since we're dreaming, it would be nice if the woman who owned Vintages would come back with that kind of jewelry.
betico March 08, 2011 at 04:24 PM
I would like to see some nice restaurants in 5th Ave between 12th and Prospect Avenue. There are only 99 cents stores. Something like Mile End would be great. 3 or 4 nice restaurants would be perfect for the area.
mikey mike March 10, 2011 at 11:32 PM
it would be nice to see a few small scale ethnic restaurants; indian/caribbean spanish/ colombian to name a few there are quite a few restaurants on 5th which is great but there are so many restaurants in neighborhoods around the city esp in queens which serve to their own communities interesting foods at a very reasonable price that probably dont have a high overhead anyone heard of colombian empanadas or pernil made with the pierna fresh ham section not the inferior shoulder these two types of food can be found for less than 6 or so dollars in corona queens maybe we should put a few of these together in one space where people could go cafeteria style and try out diff things do we always need to be in an homage to upscale restaurants sorry for the verbage i like my idea
Parksloper March 11, 2011 at 03:26 AM
I can make a small fortune selling punctuation er periods to Patch.
Dan Chavez March 13, 2011 at 01:24 PM
The South Slope could use a drug store like Rite Aid, CVS, Duane Reade...etc. A good place could be the empty bargain store on 5th Ave/19th St. Another plus for the 'gentrified' community would be a copy/print center. The final suggestion is to bring a chain supermarket to the South Slope.
Lisa March 17, 2011 at 02:06 PM
1. We desperately need a good butcher shop. 2. It would be so nice to have a really good produce market like the one that disappeared in the fire, Summer 2004 - remember that place on 7th between Berkeley and Union? 3. How about a decent office supply store - so we don't have to shop at the chain store on 4th Ave. 4. A home decor shop - with small items like lamps, pillows, etc would be nice. 5. A yarn/craft store. - the last one moved to 5th Ave and folded into another store, essentially folding up to 1/4 the original size.
Captain Snacktime March 18, 2011 at 03:10 AM
Bed Bath & Beyond The Container Store J. Crew A couple decent 24-hour diners on Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and 9th Street. A place that serves *good* brunch. *Good,* not mediocre, which is all of Slope's brunches.
Tyler March 22, 2011 at 01:45 AM
Avi -- Based on all of the vacancies, I would suggest that the rest you charge IS market rate and those other properties are ABOVE market rate. That's why new businesses choose 5th Avenue or *anywhere* other than 7th Avenue.
Audrey Tumbarello April 04, 2011 at 04:09 PM
A 5&10...a place to buy a spool of thread or some reasonably priced housewares... a butcher, yes ethnic restaurants
Cleopatre April 16, 2011 at 01:53 AM
I would love to see an art gallery. It's actually my life-long dream but unfortunately, I don't have the investment although I have what does take to run it. I would love to see kids coming, learn and appreciate art. Artists may give private classes to the kids, right there in the gallery. The gallery will organize art exhibits on a regular basis and this will be a great venue for Park Slope art lovers and art patrons to meet and share their experience. The gallery will invite some experts to share their knowledge on conservation, restoration, framing and the art of appraising art. As an art appraiser, I may do it anyway. Anyway, this is my dream and I hope someone else dream. An art gallery will be lovely for our great neighborhood. Let’s remember that Brooklyn was home to our famous artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Harring. I am thinking also of a gallery/cafe where patrons will have their cafe croissant while being able to appreciate art…and hopefully buy some… this will be a dream comes true situation Keep them coming…
Neil Zwillinger April 16, 2011 at 02:14 PM
a good butcher is a great idea.....years ago there was a fantastic butcher on 7th avenue, i think it was where pino's pizzeria is now....larry and his brother(i forget his name) ran the place for many years....also, a gap or a banana republic would be terrific
Mandy March 28, 2012 at 12:27 PM
I am looking for a store in park slope ,I want to make laundromat , if someone have that please contact me. Cynthia8888@yahoo.com Thank you so much
Jim March 28, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Mandy - save your money and invest in something else. Park Slope really has enough laundromats.
pure essentials February 07, 2013 at 06:14 PM
i would like to show my store on park slope patch please contact me with the details. al
Lisa Vaccaro Oliverio October 03, 2013 at 09:01 AM
What about a children's hair salon?

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