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New Franklin Avenue business model: Target cool kids, not actual kids

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Crown Heights is young — but not that young.

A Franklin Avenue candy and ice cream store will close and reopen as a vintage shop by day and folk music venue by night because the demographic that truly holds sway on rapidly developing Franklin Avenue is people in their 20s, not 5-year-olds, the entrepreneurs behind the twee shop and concert hall say.

Kevin Phillips opted to close the Candy Rush between Park and Sterling places after parents stopped showing up this winter for ice cream, sweets, and French lessons for tots — and new business owners Craig Judelman and Ariane Ben Eli stepped in with a can’t-fail store idea that offers something for every 20-something.

“Kids and parents on this avenue is not really what’s happening now,” said Phillips, who owns the building and runs the sandwich shop Tastebuds across the street. “What’s happening is more young adults and adults. Date nights. Food, drinks, alcohol. Not ice cream and candy. College stuff.”

The change from kid-centric business to adult-focused music venue is the inverse of a recent shift in Park Slope, where the longtime music venue Southpaw closed and was replaced by a tutoring center.

Judelman and Ben Eli are confident that their venue, which is named Cool Pony, will lure millenial shoppers thanks to the affordability of its wares.

“There’s something really great about people in their 20s that often they have less money to spend on stuff,” said Ben Eli, who estimates the average age of her neighbors at around 28.

Ben Eli dreamt up the idea for a vintage store because of all the cast-off treasures the moving company she runs comes across, and added the music component after meeting Judelman, a folk violinist, through hurricane-relief efforts in Red Hook with Occupy Sandy.

By its grand opening on March 15, the store will stock vintage Western-wear and boots, old furniture, and records, while host lo-fi, folk concerts on a stage that Judelman and Ben Eli plan to construct.

The two will welcome acoustic shows in the space’s backyard, and hope to sell beer, wine, and food, and eventually hard liquor, if things go according to plan.

And Cool Pony will give the neighborhood — as well as its stage-starved young musicians — the first full-time music venue on the quickly changing Franklin Avenue strip.

“We always lament that there’s nowhere to play here,” said Judelman about fellow Crown Heights musicians. “I’ve been working for years to create communities around food, dance, and music and finding a space like this to realize those things.”

Judelman said the store was inspired by hybrid shops like Robert’s Western World in Nashville and the Jalopy Theater in Red Hook, where he is a regular patron and performer.

“We want to focus on Crown Heights artists,” he said. “We don’t want to close off to anybody.”

Cool Pony (733 Franklin Ave. between Park and Sterling places in Crown Heights) Opens March 15.

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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Reasonable discourse

manhatposeur from brokelyn says:
yah! Hipster gathering spot!
March 11, 2013, 9:54 am
jjm from ch says:
Yay! Thieves n robbers coming soon lol
March 11, 2013, 1:54 pm
Today says:
They both look as if: they weren't weaned off breast milk until they were seven. And pushed around in a stroller until their feet were dragging the sidewalk.
March 11, 2013, 2:41 pm
jjm from ch says:
and that wasnt a joke...u really think the stick-up kids around the area arent gonna put targerts on the hippies when they set up shop?? they're waiting in the wings for the next iphone and/or macbook to snatch.
March 11, 2013, 6:41 pm
Lord Invader from Franklin Avenue says:
Clueless white folks are so droll. Think they even know to ask Buckshot-- Co-CEO of Duck Down Records & Franklin Avenue native, in addition to being a member of the great Black Moon and Boot Camp Clik) if he'd like to perform sometime? (He played Southpaw plenty.)

I'd be pleasantly surprised if the answer is yes.

Be nice if there was some calypso there sometime too but now I'm getting crazy, I know.
March 12, 2013, 6:45 pm
anon from CH says:
"a can’t-fail store idea"? are you serious? don't know how much of a profit they are going to turn selling misc vintage goods and having shows without a liquor license. also what about launch pad just a few doors down, which already does serve as a community venue for music, arts, potlucks etc (and is a nonprofit, which says something about how profitable that stuff is)?
March 13, 2013, 11:37 am
Lincoln Terrace Test Match from Eastern Porkway says:
Wow "lo-fi" music LIVE too? I thought "lo-fi" was an aesthetic of expediency, rational use of limited resources, not an ideal to pursue on to stages of Brooklyn... or anywhere!!

Truth be told too the LAST thing Brooklyn needs is more outlets for bored white people to "express" themselves.
March 13, 2013, 5:10 pm
zoe from crown heights says:
calling them a 'vintage' store is definitely some very strong wording. I think the term 'thrift' is far more applicable. there's a HUGE difference between the vintage store across the street [Rosebud Vintage] and the wares available at Cool Pony.
March 15, 2013, 1:30 pm

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