Ever since Ricky’s — the bright pink, techno-music bumping beauty shop — announced it was opening in Brooklyn Heights, parents started preparing to shield their children’s eyes while strolling down Montague Street. We’ve all heard about Ricky’s backroom, renowned for its chocolate penises and naughty costumes, and the Daily News and some of our prudish competitors in Brooklyn questioned if the store would corrupt our idyllic little neighborhood.
So having never actually been inside a Ricky’s, I was half expecting to be met with whips and chains at the door. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered lunchboxes, temporary tattoos and Ugly Dolls instead.
“[The seamy reputation] is more talk that anything else,” said the company’s president, Dominick Costello, whose store opened on Aug. 31 (though its “official” opening was set for Sept. 7).
“People like to make noise. But we sell premium brands that people in that neighborhood use. Ricky’s might have a funky connotation, but my mom is 60 years old and she likes to shop there.”
I didn’t see Costello’s mom, but I did see a fair share of the over-60 crowd. “It’s good to try out new things,” said Angela Nunez, a Brooklyn Heights resident of 40 years who was perusing the hair accessories. “You don’t want to know how many stores I’ve seen come and go. But this [store] is good and has lot for people in the neighborhood.”
In addition to an endless selection of hair tools, make-up and costume jewelry, the store stocks high-end home items like Mrs. Meyers lemon-scented aromatherapeutic household cleaners and Votivo candles in scents like red currant and “white ocean sands” for $29.99 a pop. If the prices turn you off, head downstairs to find drugstore staples like Claritin, Bengay, toothpaste and tampons.
But what about the naughty backroom? “There hasn’t been a single complaint,” said Malcolm Eggleston, who was transferred from Ricky’s 23rd Street store in Manhattan. “No kids have even tried to go back there, although adults have been several times a day.”
Located downstairs in an out-of the way corner, the backroom takes up a small percentage of the 3,200-square-foot store. Its contents are relatively harmless — minus a selection of vibrating sex toys — with the majority being bachelorette party gag gifts like a penis piñata, silly wind-up toys and crowns emblazoned with mottos like, “Final fling before the ring.”
One shopper who identified herself as “Mrs. Shankman,” was there with her dog Skippy (yes, the store is dog friendly) and couldn’t wait to come back without the burden of her pooch.
“There’s nothing so interesting in the general area of Brooklyn Heights,” she said. “But this store has a lot of stuff I tend to buy. And I haven’t been downstairs yet, but I’ll be back out of pure intellectual curiosity.” (Wink.)
Costello said he hoped Ricky’s will bring something “funky and cool” to the neighborhood — and, indeed, there’s finally an alternative to either trekking to Manhattan or Park Slope for high-end products, or going for the cheap stuff at Duane Reade.
“Once you come into our store you realize we’re not some schlocky place,” said Costello. “Parents should be worried if someone was putting in a porn shop or a peek booth. People don’t know what they’re dealing with until it’s in there. Then they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s it?’ It’s fear of the unknown.”
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Plymouth Church’s fall kick-off is this Sunday with a barbeque open to all friends and neighbors in the Beecher garden, which is on Orange Street between Hicks and Henry streets. Call (718) 624-4743 for information. …
And we bid farewell to Greens, that vegan and kosher Chinese restaurant on Montague Street, near Henry Street. We hear it will be replaced later this year by the Island Grill.