Sid’s bids adieu to Downtown

The Brooklyn Paper
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After nearly 80 years, Sid’s Hardware has left Downtown.

The definition of a successful Mom-and-Pop business, Sid’s anchored Myrtle Avenue before, during and after the days when it was known as “Murder Avenue.” But this week it closed its location in the Metrotech office complex, where it was relocated after making a nice deal with developer Bruce Ratner nearly three decades ago. It will reopen on Hamilton Avenue at the southern end of the Gowanus Canal and near Park Slope.

The hardware store that stuck with Downtown through the best of times and the worst of times (and these times, which are somewhere in the middle), has finally gotten sick of Downtown.

“Look, the rents are too high, there’s no parking, and this dead scene isn’t a place to run a business,” said Rich Popper, a store manager. “The other day, I had one guy go around the block for 20 minutes so he could pick up a couple cans of paint.”

It will reopen “in the next couple weeks.” For now, contractors can still place orders, but the walk-in business is finished.

The location change will complete a business model revamp for the 78-year-old shop — moving away from “terrible” retail sales to direct sales. A new service counter will focus on delivery to construction sites and ordering, said sales manager William Ruzzo.

He added that the decision to move was made at the end of a 20-year, rent-controlled lease deal with Ratner — an agreement struck after the developer took control of Sid’s previous location using eminent domain.

The business saw a steep decline in retail customers — and an explosion of demand for direct delivery to construction sites — during the “revitaliza­tion” of the Downtown area and the construction of the Metrotech Center, Ruzzo said. He blames a deteriorating business climate among a horrendous parking situation — not to mention an even-sweeter rent deal on the new place, plus a parking lot, much more warehouse space, and room for delivery trucks.

“So we’re going to ramp up our customer service and have our orders ready to pick up at the new place,” Ruzzo said.

Sure, the Home Depot and the Lowe’s Hardware superstore are already well established near the new Sid’s, but Ruzzo said that those businesses present an opportunity, not a threat.

“We’re a ‘get in, get out in 10 minutes’ kind of store, unlike those guys,” Ruzzo said. “We’re going to take all the direct business we need from them.”

He added that Sid’s would stick to some of its roots: it’s still family owned and will have about seven aisles of tools and materials. But Ruzzo said the refocusing of the business is the only thing that will keep it alive and thriving in this economy.

Officials from Forest City Ratner, the now-defunct store’s landlord, did not return calls for comment.

Sid’s Hardware [435 Hamilton Ave. at 14th Street, (718) 875-2259].

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Reader Feedback

Dave from Clinton Hill says:
Makes sense. Loved shopping there for many years but they def. had to switch it up, parking anywhere around there is a total nightmare. Looking fwd to seeing the new shop!
Feb. 26, 2010, 2:27 am
Jack from Prospect Heights says:
The lack of parking didn't do Sid's in (although it didn't help) as much as an apathetic staff and the lack of merchandise in such a giant space (of course the lack of merchandise -- for a year at least -- might have been because they planned to close). And then the lousy economy just piled on.

Didn't they get a sweetheart lease when they moved from Myrtle Ave when Metrotech was built?
Feb. 26, 2010, 6:12 am
Bob Marvin from Prospect Lefferts Gardens says:
The new location is very close to Lowes. I think Sid's will eat their lunch.
Feb. 26, 2010, 10:15 am
Mr. L from Brooklyn Heights says:
Bob, it's probably the other way around. Considering that Lowe's and Home Depot (both of which are a stone's throw away from the new location) have cheaper prices and a much larger selection of goods, I can't see how Sid's will be able to compete.

Unless the market for Benjamin Moore paint is bigger than I thought.
Feb. 26, 2010, 11:18 am
Pacholo from Red Hook says:
Where are the people who opposed IKEA and big box stores? Sid's Hardware will only bring traffic, congestion and competition to Lowe's, Lumber Liquidators, and Home Depot. I moved from Iowa get away from all this city stuff. LOL
Feb. 26, 2010, 1:26 pm
Mark from Gowanus says:
So the sweetheart lease was up and Ratner wouldn't cut a deal. Let's see what goes into the spot.

And Sid's may do just fine against Lowe's and Home Depot (both of which are in Ratner strips, BTW) if they really focus on contractors. It's a different kind of customer service, they might pull it off.
Feb. 26, 2010, 6:44 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
Sids Hardware has been a good neighbor and an anchor in the business has been here for over 65 years (a mom & pop) and have seen alot of changes in the past few years. Sids ending was signaled years ago when the civic center garage closed and stayed closed when the marriot hotel couldn't get built. there was no parking (except if you had an illegal parking permit) now the big buildings are almost empty of employees and the city has moved most of the brooklyn employees to manhattan an elsewhere. the master plan was flawed, we got high rise residental buildings and job removals....that's what killed Sid's. I wish them well.
Feb. 26, 2010, 6:59 pm
tom from downtown says:
i often wondered about that Marriott...i moved to the area in '87....three blocks away from Sid's...when that garage, and park was there. I thought land where city parks were couldn't be built upon (sure it was a nasty park then, but would be nicely cleaned up, and appreciated, now)...? Sid's was an almost weekly jaunt for me, it will be missed...
Feb. 27, 2010, 11:39 am
Dolores from Bklyn Heights says:
Very sad to hear this but unfortunately, not surprised. The "revitalization" of downtown Brooklyn has its positives and more negatives than I'd like. I will miss being able to walk down a few blocks to get keys copied, and for hardware odds and ends that I didn't want to have to drive all the way to Lowe's or Home Depot for. I wish there could be a better balance between all of the huge shiny new complexes planned and the mom-and-pop stores that give Brooklyn its great character, and make our lives pleasant and complex. I knew the guy at the key making counter, and we always had a pleasant "how are you doing" exchange when I made keys. Now, I don't know where nearby I can get keys made and certainly won't have that feeling of familiarity and belonging. Yes, Sid's had problems with inventory etc, but I see that as a symptom of a larger problem (economy,etc.)
March 1, 2010, 10:55 am
Mike from Concord Village says:
Bummer. My wife and I used to go there often when we lived in Concord Village and were happy to see it was still there when we drove down Jay St for the first time in years last summer.
March 9, 2010, 1:45 pm
Garnetta from BedStuy says:
I personally will follow Sid's where it goes. Home Depot and Loew's don't offer qualitative products vs. quantitative products. When you buy from Sid's, you get sound, solid advise you absolutely cannot, I repeat CANNOT get from the so called big boys. Their wood is inferior at high prices and their delivery prices are astronomical. They were trying to sell dry rotted plywood for much more than I would have been able to purchase birch, custom cut, at Sid's. For small businesses, they allow you to open a business account without selling your first born child. For me, there is none other. They are the best. As for eminent domain--it it too much like communism to me. No one should lose land, property, life and liberty at the government's hands in the interest of big business. All of this building is simply unearthing the rats, creating temporary jobs and displacing many poor, decent individuals who worked hard to be sold out.
June 25, 2011, 7:04 pm

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