17 April 2012

Accardi Hardware, Oldest Business on Columbia Street, Closes

Many changes are coming to Columbia Street in Brooklyn lately. Yesterday, I reported that the one-time bustling commercial lane had lost one of its longstanding businesses, the 62-year-old Sokol Bros. Furniture Store. And a building near DeGraw that has operated as a slaughterhouse since for nearly a century, recently shut its doors, owing to Gowanus Canal-related construction that unsettled its foundation. Now it seems that Columbia has been robbed of another—perhaps its last—survivor from the old days: Accardi Hardware and Industrial Supply.

Accardi held down the fort at 157 Columbia—between DeGraw and Kane—for decades, when the street, commercially speaking, was little more than a ghost town. I could never find out much about the place, just that it was family owned and had been there forever. (It was actually established in 1915, making it by far the oldest extant business on Columbia.) They had a billboard down on Van Brunt Street (see below) advertising their presence, so I imagine they got a lot of business from Red Hook outfits.

I'm not sure what happened, but Accardi is gone. It's been replace by Red Hook Flooring and Area Rug World.  Area Rug World was founded in 2008.


garyhope said...

I was a young artist with a studio at 235 Columbia Street above Sam Pantano's shoe store. It was one of the best and cheapest studios that I ever had in Brooklyn and New York City. Sam Pantano was a wonderful and kind man.

I bought lots of tools and paint from Accardi's Hardware. Mr. Accardi was always very nice to me. I still have tools that I bought there. A pair of Channel Lock pliers and a 6 foot long ruler and straight edge that I bought there.

Columbia Street and Union Street had the greatest food shopping imaginable. Fish, meat, produce, delicatessens, cafe's, bakeries, cheese. One store sold nothing but baccala, the dried salted cod fish. They had marble tanks to soak the salted cod in.

There was a wonderful Italian restaurant around the corner on President Street called Cafiero's. So good and affordable. I took my parents there when they came to visit their precious baby son living in a cold water studio above Sam's shoe store. My mom always remembered going there.

I got my first bank loan every that I used to buy my first stereo system from the bank on the next block. I was so proud of it. My first credit account was at A&S in "downtown" Brooklyn where I bought a portable typewriter to write to all of my friends and family. Took me months to pay it off. No computers or internet in those days.

There was a Puerto Rican bar and restaurant next to the shoe store where I used to eat a lot of lunches and dinners. A plate of rice and beans was 60 cents. If were rich or had just got paid, you could add meat to it for another 30 cents. Plus they had wine.

Great memories, great people, great food and good times. Thank you Brooklyn and all the Italians and Puerto Rican's who were so nice.

Alan Tubbs said...

I lived above Accardi Hardware back in 83-84, 2nd floor. I can't remember the exact address - I can find it you want. Anyway, it was across the street from the newer location. As Dave told it, Dave Accardi, the owner and son of the original Accardi, the City was doing work on the pipes and sewers along the BQE, a building fell down and killed some renters. So the City chased all of them out of the apts while the local businesses sued (including Dave) and kept their business going - kind of. Of course, once the renters left he kept getting broken into, so he started letting on the side.

$50 for the hot water. I replaced Lefferts and Marjong, a musician and junkie who weren't there enough and Dave got broken into again. I inherited a bunch of their stuff, including furniture, a bunch of trunks of costumes, a large collection of punk ties and wooden stocks - the kind you put arms, legs and head into. There was no kitchen, just a sink and I lived off a hot plate.

It was on the second floor, a rail road apt., the same one Dave was born in. The back windows were cinder-blocked, otherwise I would have had a million dollar view of the twin towers.

The neighborhood looked like Berlin in 1945. Nobody but me and the homeless lived in the neighborhood. It made my mother cry when my folks came to visit. On our side of the block there was Accardi and a magic wholesaler. Across the street was the Latin American Longshoreman's club. And that was it. You had to walk two-three blocks toward Red Hook to find a pack of cigarettes. All the buidlings were burnt out. The Firemen from the Heights knew all the bum"s names, so they said, from coming down every evening in the winter. I can't even remember where a grocery store was - over by Bergen. There was a Jewish baker over there, anyway.

My favorite story of the neighborhood was I had the Butthole Surfers (the Texas Psycho-punk band) living w/ me and they were rehearsing late at night - about 2 O'clock. When they stopped we heard banging. I went down to see what the fuss was about and the local homeless had complained about the noise to a police woman. Nice neighborhood where the even the winos complain about the noise.

Anyway, the local businesses finally lost the suit. Dave built a place across the street that became the new Accardi. And the city bulldozed what was left of the water side of the street. before that, tho, they got some money out of it. I came home from Brooklyn College one day to find and got out of the car (yes and parking was fine there once the locals had stole my radio) and they were shooting a movie - some kind of bad superhero movie w/ space pirates and every known bad guy cliché. They were crawling over the mountains of rubbled bricks out back, pretending to throw grenades and doing bad kung fu moves. I can hear the director yell "throw more granades, we'll put the smoke in later (this was way before anything decent in CGI)."

If you want to see the old Accardi look on youtube for the season opener, 2nd season (I think) for "Miami Vice." Rico and Tubbs go to NYC. They blow up Accardi hardware where the dealers have stashed their stuff. There you go. They probably shot the explosion from Dave's new place. I was on Bond Street by then, right down the block from CBGBs.