The hammers, saws and drills will utter their last sounds at Goldsholle & Garfinkel Hardware this week – after 94 years in business.
The Manhattan Avenue hardware store becomes the latest in a series of local businesses to close up shop amid rising rents. Recently, the doors have closed at neighborhood staples like Jam’s, Photoplay and Dalaga – but more than the others, Goldsholle & Garfinkel’s shutdown will mark the closure of one of the oldest stores in North Brooklyn.
For owner Steven Goldsholle, between the rents and the competition from superstores like Home Depot, the timing was just right.
“It’s all about the bars, restaurants, and cafes in Greenpoint now,” said Goldsholle. “I’m tired now and I don’t want to wait till the very end. I don’t want to be carried out of the store. I want to walk out with my head held high.”
The store was unable to fully recover from the recession in 2009, according to Goldsholle, and the change in the neighborhood’s character – from being a base for factories and manufacturers to its current stature as the home for New York Millenials, further added to the store’s declining fortunes.
But Goldsholle bears no ill will. Instead, he said he will relish the store’s rich history and remember the countless relationships he built in the neighborhood over the years.
“There are a lot of memories here,” said Goldsholle. “I’ve seen generations of families grow up in this neighborhood, and the toughest part will be losing the friends and relationships.”
Three generations of Goldsholles have run the store. Goldsholle’s grandfather opened the shop in 1920 along with his cousins – the Garfinkels – all of whom had moved to the States from Germany, Poland and Russia.
During Prohibition, the back area of the store served as a speakeasy, according to Goldsholle, who counts Bugsy Siegel as a great uncle, and which added an element of mystery to the history of the shop for Goldsholle. Never a part of the late night activities at the shop, which his parents refused to discuss with him, he vividly recalls his grandmother going to fetch his grandfather from the store when he didn’t return until late.
Goldsholle joined the shop in 1970, after working several years at the tax department on the 62nd floor of the World Trade Center, just as his father and uncle began to take a backseat in running the business. He said that close to 40 people who worked on the floor – some who may have been his colleagues – perished on 9/11.
In his years at the store, Goldsholle has witnessed the massive demographic shift in the neighborhood – the Polish stronghold being diversified first by an influx of Latinos, and then by a younger, artistic crowd in the last decade.
The hardware store however will be missed by residents and business both old and new.
East River Tattoo, located further up on Manhattan Avenue, has been getting its supplies from Goldsholle & Garfinkel since 1997. The Tattoo moved shop around the neighborhood a few times, and Goldsholle & Garfinkel readily helped out each time.
“He always been very helpful with offering advice on how to use the tools and materials available at the store,” said Kitty Joe Sainte-Marie, who works at East River Tattoo, of Goldsholle. “He was always friendly and each time you went in you’d always sit down for a chat. It really made you feel like you were a part of the neighborhood.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the store buzzed with activity, workers moving supplies and equipment, and Goldsholle’s long-time friends stopping by for a chat before it all ends. In fact, Goldsholle was readily giving away generous amounts of supplies his friends for no cost whatsoever.
For now, Goldsholle says he is excited about his retirement and looking forward to the future.
“I’m going to travel, go to the golf course, and if possible take up tennis again.”