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.”