Fort Hamilton Parkway runs from Bay Ridge to Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Running through several communities, the Parkway alternates between a few vibrant stores and altogether abandoned blocks. Culturally speaking, the Borough Park region of Ft Hamilton is known to have a strong Hasidic community presence. “There’s been a huge Asian influx into this neighborhood… over the past five years…” notes Phil Penta, part-owner of 3 Guys from Brooklyn, a green grocer located on Ft Hamilton at 65th.
The diverse population makes Borough Park an interesting business area on which to focus. Penta explained that since the Asians began moving into the area, many old shops have closed and they have taken over the spaces for their own. He expressed this influx has made it difficult for him to maintain business. “They’re good customers, but they also tend to stay at their own markets… So it’s been bad, to say the least.”
Focusing on the Parkway stores between 58th and 60th streets, Penta’s cry proves true in that Asians own every one of the 14 shops in 2 blocks. Toys & Gift is a toy store offering all of the toys you’d find in FAO Schwarz, however owners won’t find the giant revenue pool here on Ft Hamilton. Toys & Gift replaced a bar and has been in business for a little over 1 year. “Business is pretty good sometimes, others it is ok,” the clerk explains. By strict observation however, it’s quite rare to see a full shop at any time of the week. While pinwheels and train sets chug in the window front, business on this strip is not at all flourishing.
Next door at the Laundromat, the woman greets in perfect English, “Hello! How are you today?” As soon as the visit becomes a matter of journalistic inquiries, her language barrier kicks into gear as she explains in perfect English, “Sorry, I don’t speak English, I don’t understand what you’re saying.” This doesn’t seem like a strategic way to treat a local customer and reporter. It’s safe to assume shop owners on this strip already have their loyal customers, and perhaps they expect nothing more.
At Lucky Star Grocery, a young Asian clerk laughs at the question with a blunt, “business sucks.” Evidently, as there was not one customer shopping. D&D Nail Supply at the end of the block is great for a bottle of polish ½ cost of retail, however it is a wholesale store for nail salons. The clerk explains most of their customer base is nail salons.
There are 3 discount variety shops between 59th and 60th street, all essentially selling a slue of well, extremely random goods, most of which are the same as their competitors. With a wavering consumer base to begin with, it’s a wonder 3 store owners make any significant source of profits.
The only bar on the strip, KINGS is mysterious to say the least. While it’s open until all hours of the night throughout the week, the view of its bland white façade is never obstructed by a line of customers. Even when peeking inside, the crew seems to be a small number of regulars, never crowded. KINGS seems like an insider-only place, in which case, their revenues are questionable.
Tengu, the 2nd restaurant on the block has excellent food, however the space itself is usually never at full seating capacity, perhaps this is due to their 34 violation points as of July 2012. The 1st restaurant, Spicy Pot, has a far lesser violation rating of 13 as of January 2012 with only one of the four critical violations Tengu received.
Overall, Ft Hamilton between 58th and 60th is pretty dead in the ways of business, all with a small market and an even smaller variety of goods. In Manhattan, a nail salon can be found next to a department store, which is next to a candy store, sitting atop of a real estate office. In Borough Park, a shopper is lucky to find anything they might be looking for. Though it is a Parkway, it is very much a neighborhood, and employees should understand that introducing themselves to establish relationships with their customers would serve their otherwise slow marginal businesses well.