Beloved Bay Ridge shop to close next month

A Bay Ridge institution will be shutting its doors next month.

The Hutch, which has beguiled local shoppers with its top-of-the-line array of home and tabletop accessories since 1964, will close by the end of March, reported owner Donna Caroleo, who has owned the business started by her aunt for the past 16 years.

“There’s no better time to do it than now,” remarked Caroleo, who said she will nonetheless miss the “wonderful customers” who have traveled from near and far to patronize the shop, which has been located at 8016 Third Avenue for the past five years, and before that on Fifth Avenue.

“But, sometimes, you just have to move on,” Caroleo noted. While the economic climate had something to do with her decision, Caroleo also told this paper that she recently became a grandmother and was looking forward to spending a good deal of time with her grandson, Brody.

“I’m excited,” she confessed. “This is 2010, and any change is better than no change at all. I’m looking forward to my next adventure. I don’t know what it’s going to be but, even if it’s being a full-time grandmama, I’m ready.”

The next few weeks will bring a flurry of activity at the jewel box of a store, which Caroleo described as “a premium gift store selling exclusive lines that are not seen everywhere.”

“I’m selling everything,” noted Caroleo, “at 50, 60, 70 percent off.”

“I have fabulous bargains here, in Waterford Crystal, Lladro, Kosta Boda, Lalique, Herend and Orrefors,” among others, she confided.

Even after she closes, however, Caroleo – a Bay Ridge resident — will maintain her ties with the neighborhood. While, she noted, “I will miss all of this. In that respect, it’s very sad. I feel like I’m moving away,” she will, she added, “Still be around.”

She will also be continuing her on-line business, at www.thehutchinc.net, Caroleo said, noting that the Web site will “probably be more interactive,” going forward.

Chuck Otey, the marketing director of the Merchants of Third Avenue, remarked, on hearing the news, “We certainly wish her well. She knows her business, knows what’s she’s doing. She’s been a very important person on the avenue. I know the difficulties facing smaller stores these days, and I can’t blame her. I think it’s great.”

Area resident Judy Collins also sang the Hutch’s praises.

“It really has been the heart and soul of Bay Ridge,” she commented, noting that the store has “always had a large and very loyal following, who bought there for their daughters and their nieces, wedding and shower gifts. You just had to tell her, I need a gift for such and such a person, the age group and type of style, and she was always able to show you a couple of suitable items.

“The Hutch has been a household name in Bay Ridge,” Collins added, “and it will be sorely missed.”