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Shirts and giggles outside the Barclays Center

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A quirky T-shirt company is challenging Brooklynites to have a sense of humor about the one thing they all hold near and dear: their borough.

Brooklyn Rock peddles pun-laden shirts that serve as a counterpoint to the borough’s increasingly slick brand — expect slogans such as “My mom and dad went to Brooklyn and all I got was this lousy condo” and “Brooklyn, entertaining Manhattan since 1646” — from a prime piece of real estate directly across the street from the Barclays Center.

“People are coming to Brooklyn looking for flavor, but not that many people are providing it,” said co-owner Chris Smith, who used to run the Big Genius art supply store in Williamsburg and has been an artist in the borough for 17 years. “This artisinal crap is just a marketing thing.”

The irreverent silk-screening shop’s location so close to the glitzy new arena may seem incongruous, but Park Slope landlord extraordinaire Michael Pintchik says he hand-selected the shirt-sellers for the Dean Street storefront after he saw Brooklyn Rock at its former location in the now-shuttered shipping container souk the Dekalb Market.

“We picked them because we thought they are creative,” said Pintchik, who previously assembled the quaint retail strip on Bergen Street between Fifth and Flatbush avenues. “They are the antidote to so much of what is happening in retail and development in Brooklyn right now.”

Brooklyn Rock’s new space is a little bigger than its former shipping container, at about the size of a subway car, and Pintchik wants to build out the shop a bit. He has given Smith a lease that runs through April, at which point he says he will reassess and potentially move the business nearby or let it stay.

Smith says he’s grateful for the opportunity to occupy such a hot piece of real estate, regardless of how long it lasts.

“Business is much better here,” said Smith, who tries to target a literary crowd with his American-made shirts, which range from $20 to $28.

One of his shirts even lampoons his new neighbors with an image of a basketball player trying to elude a net-waving crowd of specimen-seekers. Text below the graphic reads “Brooklyn Nets.”

Smith and his wife and business partner Yukiko Wada admit they did brisk business on the nights Bob Dylan and the Who played at the Barclays Center, but they say their shop is the antithesis of the arena experience.

“We couldn’t be further from them,” Smith said, gesturing at the Barclays Center on the other side of Flatbush Avenue.

Brooklyn Rock (454 Dean St. at Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope, noon to 11 pm).

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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Reader Feedback

Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I find this to be overrated if you asked me, and it will probably be overpriced knowing what is going on there.
Dec. 4, 2012, 7:53 pm
Paul A. from Bay Ridge/Ft. Hamilton says:
HEY! Barzilai..Who the hell are you and where the hell is Pleasantville???
Dec. 5, 2012, 11:43 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I take it you have been living under a rock on this, so I suggest you read the Atlantic Yards Report to bring you up to speed on the Atlantic Yards and its impact on the community, because it states what really goes on.
Dec. 5, 2012, 2:37 pm
Seth from Wburg says:
Our hours are noon till 11pm for a "hands on" assessment
Dec. 5, 2012, 2:51 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I wonder if you have any shirts that say, "I believed in everything Bruce Ratner said about the Atlantic Yards, and all I got was this lousy shirt."
Dec. 5, 2012, 2:55 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
I'm sorry, but I kindly disagree with this for many, many reasons.
Dec. 5, 2012, 4:25 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal --
Now you have a problem with small businesses? Hmm...
Dec. 6, 2012, 10:48 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville,NY says:
The truth is that believing that the arena will be a positive impact is really just an illusion. According to Neil de Mause, the author of the famous book, Field of Schemes, he is proven countless times that such places like that do NOT help improve neighborhoods, especially if the owner isn't paying the full price for it. The people who were forced out were the ones that were contributing. If anyone can actually prove me wrong, then I willing to see it, otherwise, I will just think that you are just another crony paid by FCR to such things, and I do know what Ratner and his cronies say all the time. His paid supporters are known for reading such a script. Of course if that store has a shirt that says that quote I mentioned, I will get that. Then again, DDDB will probably have something like that even more.
Dec. 6, 2012, 4:42 pm
ty from pps says:
"If anyone can actually prove me wrong, then I willing to see it..."

HAHAAHAHAHAHAHA! You have been corrected on sooooo many things by soooo many people, but you keep coming back saying the same ignorant things. (And most of these things are far simpler than this topic.)

I think it's probably pure luck that a lot you say about the Atlantic Yards happens to have a relationship to reality... pure luck. Statistically speaking, I guess you were bound to get something right eventually. After all, a broken clock is still right twice per day.
Dec. 6, 2012, 4:57 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, you actually described yourself. Nothing you say, I can take seriously. If this was an actual debate, you would lose in a heartbeat. Also, making personal attacks will automatically disqualify you. Still, I wait for evidence that the AY is actually a positive for the community, and I have given sources such as as the AY Report, Field of Schemes, and even the IBO, which all have proven just the reverse. If supporters really have the claim, then why do they have the tendency to stand so defensive when asked in depth questions on it. Also, many go on record for making slanderous remarks on anyone opposing it especially for never backing their claims but rather making blanket statements that they believe is the only claim to be true when such has been easily refuted when there is someone here is actually met the said group(s) and/or individual(s) in person such as myself and never heard anything like that.
Dec. 6, 2012, 6:10 pm
ty from pps says:
"personal attacks will automatically disqualify you"

I didn't know your stupid comments filling the pages of this website were part of an 8th Grade debate club event. Makes more sense now.
Dec. 6, 2012, 7:26 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, sometimes I would like to now how old you are after seeing all those personal attacks you continue to make, which does make me question your age a lot.
Dec. 7, 2012, 2:31 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal - I'm somewhere between 8 and 63.
Dec. 7, 2012, 3:56 pm
ty from pps says:
Also, Tal... How do you not know how old I am? Weren't you regularly threatening to have your lawyer sue me for being mean to you? He probably knows everything about me. (Right?)
Dec. 7, 2012, 3:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty it is patently easy to dicern your age. I simply divide the number of sentences that you write by 6 to arrive at your IQ. My lawyer is busy drafting up the serve notice, so you had better be extra careful that I don't tack on another miscreantic behavior to your summons. And don't think for a second that I don't know what you are all about. I don't know if you don't know that you think I don't know all that about you but like Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth the first, we know the truth, b/c you are easy to trace with your online trail, which, by the way, leads me to streetsblog and all the usual suspects. You had better cease and desist while you still can, b/c I tire of all this endless debunking.
Dec. 17, 2012, 11:48 pm

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