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‘Circuit’ breaker

The Brooklyn Paper
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Bay Ridge’s booming 86th Street is about to be unplugged.

In what will be the biggest retail closure to hit Bay Ridge since the Key Food supermarket shut its doors in May, the electronics superstore Circuit City — which opened its two-story location at the corner of 86th Street and Fifth Avenue only three years ago — is going out of business.

Thanks to the tanking economy, all 567 Circuit City stores nationwide, including another Brooklyn location in the Bruce Ratner-owned Atlantic Center Mall, will close by March, leaving approximately 34,000 unemployed — 40 to 50 of them in Bay Ridge.

“Due to challenges to our business and the continued bleak economic environment, Circuit City is going out of business and the company’s assets will be liquidated to pay off creditors,” read a message on the electronics purveyor’s Web site. “The process was extremely difficult and we were left with no other choice but to liquidate.”

The selloff has already started at the 86th Street location, but just how long it will stay open is anyone’s guess.

“We’ll be open until the inventory sells out,” one employee told The Brooklyn Paper. “How am I supposed to know when that will be?”

When Circuit City opened on the bustling commercial stretch in 2006, Ridgites cheered its arrival, said Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann. Now they’re mourning its departure.

“That site where Circuit City is currently housed was vacant for a very long time before Circuit City came in,” Beckmann said. “It was really to the great joy of the community that they invested here in 86th Street, and they will be very missed.”

The pending closure of Circuit City and the recent shuttering of KB Toys, 86th Street — which commands the highest rents per square foot in the borough — will hurt, John Logue, president of the 86th Street Business Improvement District, added.

“What’s scary now is just how light the foot traffic has gotten on 86th Street since the first of the year,” Logue said. “It certainly doesn’t bode well.”

Updated 5:10 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Michael from Bay Ridge says:
This is not a bad development at all. I hope that some local buisness will open at the location. 86th street used to have more unique buisnesses, I don't think that some big box, chain retailer improved things at all.
I hope the building gets used for something nicer or more interesting.
Jan. 22, 2009, 10 am
Jack from Bay Ridge says:
Hey Michael -- what planet are you on? Did you actually _read_ the story ... or have you peeked at Bay Ridge, or at econ stats, lately?
It _is_ a bad development, since it's symptomatic of a rotten economy and high jobless rate. Stores like KB Toys and Circuit City pulled shoppers into the area and created fallout business for other stores. Even _before_ they closed, area stores were often creepily empty -- and as the guy said, 86th St foot traffic is now so light that it's scary.
It's even tougher for local, non-chainstore businesses. And when people are cash-strapped, they want cheap basics; "unique" goods are a luxury.
Jan. 22, 2009, 11:18 pm
TedP from bay ridge says:
Michael from Bay Ridge says: "86th street used to have more unique buisnesses ... I hope the building gets used for something nicer or more interesting."
Well then, GOOD NEWS! WaMu is closing its 86th St branch, so there'll be THREE big holes to fill there.
But, uh, things don't look so hot. Aside from those three places, B.R. already lost Key Food, a Starbucks, and Happy Pets (a nice unique store, killed by the recession). Other stores are treading water or carrying less inventory. Century21 has lost a lot of its bustle, Staples is like an echo chamber, and my neighbors have become 99-cent-junkstore connoisseurs.
The Dunkin' Donuts joints seem to be doing OK, tnx to relatively cheap, filling food. Maybe they could open three megastores on 86th but add nice, interesting touches - like Great Depression singalongs, or classes in Self-Surgery for the Uninsured Jobless?
Jan. 24, 2009, 4:33 am
Mel from ew Jersey says:
Bay idge is just one neighborhood. The 'domino effect' is spreading thruout the country.
Stores fail because business stinks, as the ranks of the unemployed swells. It begins feeding on itself: more layoffs - less customers.

When someone you know is laid off, it's a Recession; when you're laid off it's a Depreccion!
Jan. 24, 2009, 10:31 pm
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Less than ten years ago there was a huge independant record store on 86th street, I think it was called the Record Factory (or something like that), more independant clothing stores, and other local buisnesses.
There's no reason that it couldn't be more like that again, insted of being a boring chain-store strip.
If the spaces are too big, just sub-divide them.
The big stores don't have any selection of products, and if you ever went into the KB toys store, it was a mess. It was dirty and disorganized. I went there to look for presents this christmas and left after five minutes because the aisles were covered with toys just tossed arround (many damaged).
The economic downturn may make it easier for new small buisnesses to open, because rents are going down. Of course I understand that the bad economy is going to make it more difficult, but I don't feel bad about a large retailer with a poorly run store closing down, and I really can't understand why anyone else would.
The holes will be filled quickly when the buildings' owners drop the rents to something reasonable. Hopefully they'll be filled with better stores, but only time will tell.
Jan. 26, 2009, 9:18 am
TedP from Bay Ridge says:
To Michael:
-- Record stores have closed because MP3s have killed CD sales. Even electronics, discount and dept stores no longer carry big CD inventories (oldies and odd genres), but limit themselves to sure-sellers.
-- The Internet has walloped specialty stores, clothing stores, bookstores and the like ... which often can't compete with the prices, variety, or deals offered online.
-- Stores aren't museums. Shelf space = money. If something doesn't sell, they stop carrying it. If a store doesn't meet people's needs, it folds.
-- Unless they attract no shoppers at all: MANY stores are a wreck during the pre-Christmas hysteria. And though KB wasn't my idea of nirvana, it WAS the only big local toy store, and it brought people onto 86th St.
-- How can "the economic downturn ... make it easier for new small buisnesses to open" if -- at the same time -- "the bad economy is going to make it more difficult"?
-- Stores need more than reasonable rents. They need (a) loans and lines of credit, (b) entrepreneurs who can afford to take risks, and (c) customers. These are all in short supply in an economic crash featuring sky-high unemployment, loss of health coverage, business cutbacks/failures, a tanking stock market, restricted lending, bank/housing woes, and soaring food/utilities/transit costs.

This is a major recession (or perhaps depression) -- not just a pesky blip that frees up 8th St for more "interesting" businesses.
Jan. 27, 2009, 4:50 am
TedP from Bay Ridge says:
[correction/typo: "pesky blip that frees up 86th St for more "interesting" businesses.]

Also keep in mind that
-- When large stores fold, tons of people become unemployed non-shoppers. (As Mel from NJ said: "more layoffs - less customers.") You don't fix this when you replace one big store with a few small shops that employ two people apiece.
-- Circuit City, KB, and other stores didn't fail because they were "boring."
-- When stores fail, competition is reduced ... and the big-store survivors are more likely to become even bigger, and near-monopolistic.
Jan. 27, 2009, 5:12 am
Ace from New Utrecht says:
One of the main reasons I shop on line is due to the lack of knowledge and service I encounter in stores.

I go to a book store or a "record" store and the service people tend to know absolutely nothing about literature or music. The owners pay the minimum and we the customers receive (and now expect) the minimum.
Jan. 28, 2009, 2:37 pm
Moto from Bay Ridge says:
Agreed, Ace. With books, cds, electronics, almost anything, I can get better prices online, plus reviews & ratings, & real answers (if I shop via some specialized site). In stores, I just get "duh?" for my money.

As for Bay Ridge shopping ... just running around the 80s & 3rd-4th today, I spotted six closed businesses - two delis, two bank-mortgage offices, one of the "independent clothing stores" that Michael [Jan. 26 here] thinks we need more of, and some store whose ID I didn't get. All this is w/o really looking, since I was busy.

Others mentioned the 86 St toyshop & bank, plus pet supply store on 98th & 4th (plus Circ City). And small biz owners of all kinds say that business is painful.

We might end up with a boom in empty storefronts, cheapie discount stores ... and nail salons and the like, 'cause when people must cut bigger spending, they'll still find spare change for little self-esteem pick-me-ups.
Jan. 28, 2009, 11:01 pm

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