Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Sad News! Perfect Corner On Smith Street To Close After More Than Eight Years On Smith Street

I am sorry to report that Perfect Corner, the lovely framing store at 345 Smith Street will be closing its doors at the end of January.  Over the last eight and a half years, owners Joe and Marion Alameda have become very good friends and I will miss them very much.  They were the kind of business owners who not only knew their craft, but most importantly, they truly cared about their clientele and the neighborhood. 
The Alamedas did not want to close their business, but were not offered a new lease by their landlord.  
A sign in the store reads:
It is with great sadness that we are announcing the closure of our labor of love, otherwise known as Perfect Corner.  We would like to thank all our loyal customers who have walked through our doors since opening day in September 2003.  We will miss being part of this vibrant neighborhood and the wonderful art that we we were able to display that represents the best of Carroll Gardens.  And of course, to all the admirers that have appreciated our annual Holiday train displays, we apologize for not putting them up this year.
Unfortunately, we were unable to come to a reasonable negotiation with our landlord to continue our business.  Due to the time and expense necessary in putting together such a specialty store, we find ourselves not in a position to relocate elsewhere.  We look forward to the next chapter in our life.
Warmest regards,  Marion and Joe
Most likely, the space will now be leased to yet another restaurant, bar or chain store, the only businesses that can afford the ever rising retail rents on Smith Street. 
What a pity. 

Take advantage of Perfect Corner closing sale, going on right now.
***** 20% off all Oringal Oil paintings by Regina Perlin....20% off Roma Photo Frames....35% off pre matted photos....35% off pre framed art....50% off Prinz photo frame


Anonymous said...

Why is this sad, other than for you personally? I never saw a single person go in or out of that store. Hopefully something that contributes to the community and the livening up of this dead end of Smith Street will come in, but it will probably just be a bar or a bank branch.

Katia said...

Well, the Alamedas were able to run a business for more than eight years out of that place, and if they had been able to renew their lease, would have been part of the neighborhood for another eight, and longer.
Obviously they had enough business.
Yes, personally I am sad that they had to close, but the community should be sad to lose such stores and such great business owners.
Banks and chain stores just don't give a damn about the neighborhood.

Lisanne said...

It IS sad! And I like that section of Smith Street just the way it is, no need for "livening up"! God forbid we lose the laundromat, the deli, the chinese take out and Giardini's! This isn't a dead end of Smith Street, these are businesses that may not be as hip as the rest of Smith but are the type that you would prob miss if they were gone.

I wish the Alamedas luck finding new spot with a nicer landlord.

Anonymous said...

Of course this is sad! I picked up some framing from them two weeks ago and had no idea they were closing until I read this. I've been a customer of the Alamedas for years, and they do lovely work. What's wrong with an art shop occupying "this dead end of Smith Street?" At least it had class! So another useless, mediocre restaurant or boutique or nail salon will open in that space and deprive the neighborhood of the VIBRANT, UNIQUE small businesses that USED TO populate it. I'm very disappointed.

Anonymous said...

I moved to Carroll Gardens 12 years ago and there were only a few things on Smith Street - it was exciting to see what would open up next. It seems that those who were "first" on Smith Street, contributing to it's gentrification, are now being priced out after their 10 year leases expire. The landlords (many of them "locals", I might add) are selling out & it's a shame.

Katia said...

Couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

And sadly we were priced out ourselves when it came time for us to be able to buy. We headed to the Gowanus area and love it. Maybe some of those priced out of CG will join us - 3rd Ave needs some gentrification..

Anonymous said...

I am always amazed to see greedy local landlords contributing to the destruction of local business. Maybe a Starbucks will bring them more bucks?

Anonymous said...

I used the shop once, it was a good job, if a bit pricey. But, seriously, who needs things framed frequently?

And who among us, myself included, would pass up an opportunity to rent at market rate to a bank branch or a Starbucks, to cite two examples given here? Those leases are golden to the value of a property. To not have a tenant paying market rate is to basically give the existing tenant money every month out of the landlord's pocket.

Show me a landlord who is willing to artificially subsidize a tenant with a below-market rate, and I'll show you a sucker.

Anonymous said...

I know the landlord and happened to run into him today. He told me that sign was a surprise to him. He didn't force them out. There was over a year left on the lease. They came to him and asked if they could break the lease since business was so slow. They couldn't afford the rent anymore. Quite simply, they went out of business. There are two sides to every story. The landlord always seems get blamed in these situations. Sometimes it's deserved, but in this case it is not.

Katia said...

Don't know why the landlord was surprised. He had already contacted a neighborhood realtor before the Alameda's sign even went up.
Yes, the Alameda's had another year on their lease, but were told that there would not be another lease after this one.
Marion and Joe had invested a significant amount of money when they set up a business that required lots of specialized machinery. They meant for Perfect Corner to continue growing in the neighborhood and would have loved the opportunity to stay for another 10 years . But without the promise of another lease at that location, it seemed pointless to go on.
Why put any more hard work, money and love into a business if you know you can't stay.
I can understand that.
It is just sad that yet another family-owned business is being forced out of the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

You are a boob anonymous number one. What? Did you stand outside and monitor the people in and out? People have things framed! What we don't need is another bank or chain. And in my opinion, all of Smith is dead unless you need a beer or an overpriced sweater or baby clothes!!! Diversity people! Whatever the reason they are closing the Mom and Pop is dead. And it is sad.

Anonymous said...

No one is forcing any business out of anywhere!

All they had to do was run a profitable enough business to pay the market rate rent, and they would have been able to stay. If they want to run their business at a lower rent, they can easily go to 3rd Ave or Columbia Street or Sunset Park and run their business there.

Instead, they want to enjoy the monetary benefits of being on a heavily trafficked street, but not pay the price for doing so! So, they chose to leave; that is their choice, no one is forcing it on them.

That's not called sad, it's called life.

Katia said...

You can argue that the neighborhood can go without a framing shop, but the same is happening to businesses that are vital to the neighborhood.
As someone already commented, many of them helped revitalize Smith Street ten, fifteen years ago and contributed greatly in making the neighborhood popular.
Now, they are getting bumped out by new businesses that have little interest in the community other than to be in what they consider a 'hot' retail spot.

Batman said...

You are correct; but these are the natural cycles of markets. If all the laundromats get priced out, then eventually, a laundromat will come back because they are able to capture a higher market share and charge higher prices.

Right now, the retail market favors ridiculously overpriced hip restaurants, ridiculously overpriced hip barbershops/beauty salons and branches of chains. Soon, people will tire of those and some will go out of business, making way for something else new to come along (gourmet flan? boutique hardware stores?) and the cycle will continue.

It's just market cycles, not the end of our way of life.

Anonymous said...

I think it a shame that the people who did not experience Smith Street when it was dangerous to walk - both day and night - have no sympathy for the businesses that started the uptake of this lovely neighborhood. The landlords very happily rented these spaces that no one wanted 10 years ago to businesses willing to take a chance they might succeed. Now that they have made the street quite successful, they are being forced out. It's not a matter of how much rent the space is worth. It should be consideration for the "pioneer" businesses that made Smith Street safe for all of the restaurant and bar business and for you to walk on Smith Street without fear.

Batman said...

So let me get this straight: a building's owner, who may have owned the building for decades, or who might have bought it yesterday, should look at the socio-economic conditions from the time period when a business was established, and offer a discounted rent based on whether the rent was high or low at the time? Huh? What sense does that make?

I guess by the same token, those of us that moved in when it was a little questionable (or those of us that stayed!) should get a bump in the sale price of our homes when we sell, because we helped make this neighborhood what it is today?

Or should we discount the price of our homes because we didn't pay that much to begin with? I'm confused as to which market suppression and distortion is being advocated for.

Did the tenant offer to pay an increased rent when Smith Street became what it is today, and they were locked in to a long-term lease? I highly doubt that. So why is it the landlord who should take money out of his pocket to subsidize a long-standing business, but not the long-standing business that takes money out of their pocket to help the landlord when the roles were reversed?

Anonymous said...

No one is being forced to do anything. Their lease is up. What am I missing?

When my lease is up on my apartment, if I don't want to pay what the landlord can legally charge, guess what?

I move!

Perfect Corner said...

I don't know why the landlord was surprised by our signs. We have tried to renew a lease with him since Aug. At a very fare market rate. Why would we not want to stay in a store we invested thousands of dollars to renovate? He told us his "family" didn't want us here after the lease expires. This didn't surprise us since his "family" tried to brake our lease 4yrs ago.
So way stay the final yr???? Why keep on putting money & time into a business that you know will be coming to an end????
This is why we made the decision to close now.

We would like to thank all our very loyal customers that have walked through our door with many becoming friends.

Kwiz said...

Some two years ago I walked into the store to have a picture framed. The owners weclomed me and made me feel right at home. They took their time with me and explained everything and made sure I got what I wanted. The work was fantastic. They are two of the kindist, friendlist, warm hearted human beings I have ever met. When I get the chance I go be by to just hello, have a cup of coffee and BS for awhile. They were never to busy for me. So for me and I'm sure for many it is a sad day. So I wish you both nothing but success in all of your future endeavbovers. You will be missed.

Anonymous said...

I am a repeat customer of PC and I have always had a fine experience there. The Alamedas took a personal interest in what I wanted, beyond the call of duty. They were people I could rely on.

My best wishes for their success.

Anonymous said...

How dare many of you post your comments without knowing anything about the situation the Alameda's are going through. None of us know what happened between them and the landlord,and yet so many of you seem to know the facts and can't wait to show your apparent "knowledge" of the situation. Before you voice your opinions, why not talk to the owners. You will see who is in the right here and that Smith Street IS losing a fine shop!

Anonymous said...

It is a very sad that this store is closing. It made the neighborhood different in that Perfect Corner isn't a bank or bar. The Alameda's are two of the nicest and genuine people I have met and their work is extraordinary. I had a few pieces done by them, and with their help my home looks amazing. I get complments all the time. They are so inviting, and helpful.
For the first Anonymous writer, how can you say you never saw a single person walk into or out of the store? Did you have a video camera? Because unless your standing outside 24/7 you should have nothing to say, especially if you have no clue what you are talking about.
On a brighter note, I wish the Alamedas the best of luck!! I know they will do great!

Sam said...

First I'll address the very first comment on this thread (from 1/3/12 at 10:06am): This kind of apathy toward good businesses on Smith, and other places in Carroll Gardens, is part of the reason that the area is becoming over-run with banks and chains. The person who wrote this ill-advised comment obviously does not realize that it is not sad only for Katia personally but for all of us and anyone who lives in C.G. and doesn't see the trends of the better places being pushed out is simply out to lunch and none too bright, like the person who made this comment, who has, according to their own comment, never been in Perfect Corner, much less knows what a great store Perfect Corner is. It seems to be this kind of lack of tact among people that is causing all sorts of fissures and unfortunate bouts of apathy that lead to a neighborhood turning into something as generic and bland as Park Slope. I don't think anyone wants Carroll Gardens to begin to resemble Park Slope - at all.

Also, landlords have a commitment, as members of the Carroll Gardens community, to do what is right by the local businesses as well, and not just to go to the highest bidder. That kind of greed and insensitivity is animalistic and is called prostitution and leads to a loss of identity and homogenization. Look what happened when Gerard the pharmacist sold out his store to Chase for a huge amount of gold and left us with yet another big bank. It is bad choices like the one Gerard made (and I know some of you love him) that are destroying some of the character of Carroll Gardens and people who are selling out the neighborhood, little by little, store by store, and turning it into a Staten Island strip mall. I think, in Gerard's case, he should have been more prudent in who got control of that location, but apparently Gerard does not know enough or care enough about what a big bank like Chase does to a community and the toxicity of helping a neighborhood's character to deteriorate. Clinton Apothecary has held on - couldn't Gerard have done the same - I still feel disgusted by the Chase at Carroll and Court and their terrible presence there, where a nice community pharmacy used to stand - and the flow of armored trucks at the Chase and the CVS and other cold, corporate presences at the crappy new places like Chase and CVS.

Similarly, you can see how people often never take responsibility around here - how many of the "old schoolers" from Carroll Gardens (from back when Carroll Gardens was a bit of a cesspool and anyone could buy a building cheap and drugs like cocaine and heroin were sold in Carroll Park) - how many of the people who sold out their property and then complained that the neighborhood had changed. Some change is good - and the overall diversity of Carroll Gardens is better than it's ever been. But we still need to be aware of what we are doing to the neighborhood. Perfect Corner is a great store. And Gerard's old pharmacy was a charming little place. But enough of the Dunkin' Donuts and the Chase banks and the Rite Aids and CVS's. At least we got rid of Blockbuster! :) Long live Carroll Gardens!

Anonymous said...

Sam -

Yes, we got rid of Blockbuster...only for it to sit vacant for years...and then become a bland, generic chain from, the horror of horrors, PARK SLOPE!

Thank god Blockbuster is gone!

Landlord69 said...

It's very easy to spend other people's money, and criticize someone else for their decisions.

Again, I ask, show me a local business that offers to pay more than their lease calls for once the area gets better.

Of course, there are none, so why should their be landlords who take less than market rate for their stores just to help out smaller businesses?

Dunkin Donuts disgusts me, I have never set foot into the one on Court Street, but I would love them as a tenant in any of my buildings!

Anonymous said...

Landlord 69, you are a typical bottom of the barrel commercial landlord...really.

Anonymous said...

Check out this recent Yelp review:

I brought in a photo I wanted to frame for a christmas present. I asked the women behind the counter about her frames that were made and she pointed to a few that were on sale. I asked if I could open up the back of the frame to get an idea of how it would look with the photo. She grabbed it out of my hand and said "Id rather you not" and placed it back on the shelf. I will never again go here again.....a frame shop should be helpful in getting you a frame that fits with the image. So sad cause I like to support local places but cant deal with rude owners. GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!!

Perhaps it was the economy and/or rude service that put them out of business? It's highly plausible.

Landlord69 said...

Again, it is very easy to cast stones. Do you realize that a corporate lease will get you up to 80% financing today, at a great rate, whereas an unsecured lease for a small business will only get you 40-60%, depending on how much of a hit on the rate you're willing to take? Even for a small building such as this, that's a difference of HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars.

Are all of these commenters really willing to say they would give up HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars to help out a small business, or to "do the right thing"?

I do the right thing by buying my coffee from Caputos, not Dunkin Donuts. But you can't really fault someone for making a decision of that magnitude, especially when it's not your money at stake. As one of the anons said, would you sell your house for hundred of thousands less just because the buyer was a good guy?

Steve rogers said...

If the landlord doesnt want to renew their lease, why should they invest in their business or stay open if it's going to end. I know for a fact that the building owners tried to bust their lease 4 years ago. The landlord is forcing them to leave by not renewing their lease plain and simple. I am a customer of perfect corner and i know them personally. The landlord and his family's actions over the last 4 years have been absolutely disgusting. It wasnt about raising the rent to get a market value for the space, they were willing to pay it. It was about trying to be cute and busting the lease because a letter was hand delivered instead of mailed certified and a college realestate professor using the store's lease as a classroom project and dispensing false information to the landlord's family without any regard for people's livelyhood. When they were legally informed by a real realestate lawyer that the lease could not be broken, they retaliated by not letting them renew after the initial 10 years. It's also comical that the landlord was trying to bring in realestate agents to find someone to rent the store when the alamedas wanted to stay. If the landlord tells you any different he's lying.

Sam said...

It's Groundhog Day! (The one with Bill Murray - until he learned to really love, he lived the same crappy day over and over and over...)

Change your mind. All of us.

Katia said...

I can only talk about my personal experience. Marion and Joe were always more than friendly and accommodating. Over the last 8 years, I brought them many pieces to frame and their work was extraordinary.
They did everything in house as opposed to some framers who farmed it out. While Marion always helped me pick out just the right matting and frame, Joe was /is the perfectionist and real craftsman.

Sam said...

The person in this thread named Batman sounds like someone in a position of authority who plays mind games with sensitive issues - with an intellect that masks insensitivity! :) It's all ledgers and dollars and cents to people like that. As George Bush said "If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure." Mission Accomplished. :)

(Oh - by the way - in most decent science fiction literature, civilizations that use the monetary system - much less civilizations that are as wholly obsessed with money, as we are - these civilizations are considered PRIMITIVE. Do we really want to remain in this state of arrested development...?

People are doomed to live with each other until they learn to SHARE, you know, like they taught you to do when we were children.

Sam said...

Also, have any of you asked why corporate rates are so much better than small business rates? You all should bring this up with your local representatives and whoever has rigged the system in favor of crappy corporate places.

If you don't start doing this now - you may lose quite a few more businesses while you're all arguing over something that's so obvious.

But isn't that just how we all squander this incredible and sacred opportunity called Life?

Being petty is like being racist. It's just a waste.

Hank said...

Katia - you should not allow people to post Yelp comments out of context like the Anonymous person from 4:57pm today - that is irresponsible on everyone's part. Even the absolute best businesses almost always have at least one disgruntled person's pissy review on Yelp.

Yelp, and all of these Internet commentary sites (like this one!), including Facebook, seem to be creating more toxicity and division than resolution.

Katia, I'm going to recommend that you remove that person's ill-advised posting of a random, out-of-context Yelp review. Thanks!

Katia said...

Well, there was also this review on Yelp:
"Went to Perfect Corner for a custom framing job. Staff was very knowledgeable and helpful in choosing frame and mat for my picture. Prices were reasonable and the picture came out great. Would definitely recommend."

At the end of the day, Marion and Joe ran a successful business and were able to stay in business because probably 99% of their clientele was satisfied.
They had an incredibly loyal clientele and that says more than any review on Yelp.

Anonymous said...

I went in there last month to frame a Christmas present. Their prices were unreasonable so I'm not surprised by this news at all.

Anonymous said...

We are CG landlords and charge significantly below market rate to the tenants that were in the building when we bought it. Why do we do this? Not because we are suckers. It is because we value fairness and kindness and empathy, among other things. We like and trust our tenants and they have repaid us by being helpful, kind, responsible, and loyal tenants. That means a lot to us in terms of peace of mind and peace in our hearts. And, we have been able to have a wonderful life without that extra money, and so have our tenants' lives benefitted from not having to pay out that extra money. It's a win win. Some may not understand, but in a democratic country, we are lucky that we are free to choose what values we prioritize.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous who posted on 1/6, what does your post have to do with what is going on.You stated that the cost was unreasonable. Well what did you pick and do you know what the cost of the material, labor, rent and overhead costs are. You need to think before you post a statement such as this. Your post is like a vindictive, poison pen yelper, that did not get there way.

loren said...

This is always such a delicate issue for a community, but I don't believe that in this case the Alemeda's predicament makes a larger statement about the conditions of retail in Carroll Gardens. Big corporate chain stores are not itching to get onto Smith Street and shop owners are not looking for pre-gentrification rents. This is just a personal story of a greedy landlord.

As a store owner myself for 10 years (just a few doors down from the lovely Perfect Corner) I'm quite tuned in to the actual rents that are being paid vs. the asking prices set by landlords and real estate agents. They are vastly different - often by several thousand dollars per month! Some landlords on the strip are not business people who understand the market. They are often just families (many of whom have inherited the building or are attempting to take over for their aging parents) and their rent expectations are grandiose. They are already sitting on gold mines and they know it. The rent roll for my building is 100K annually and my landlord still complains about nominal RE taxes and insurance. He repairs nothing for me and does no maintenance.

The restaurateurs and shop owners should be given some credit for the changes which have taken place on Smith street since the mid 90's. They invested tens of thousands of dollars to renovate run-down stores, keep the streets clean, safe and beautified, and (most importantly) provide services to the community making this neighborhood so darn fantastic.

And now in 2012, most of us are teetering on the edge. The poor economy has taken a toll on us. Joe and Marion have fallen victim to an unrealistic landlord who, in this climate, has made it impossible for them to continue elsewhere. They will walk away from their renovations - leaving the space and this neighborhood better than it was delivered to them.

So, sadly the block loses a quality frame shop and two fine people. I lose nice neighbors.

Anonymous said...

I personally boycott MOST chain stores in our neighborhood and throughout the city. I am here for the diversity and the energy of people who peddle their "labor of love". I live 2 blocks from Dunkin Donuts and have never stepped foot in the place. I truly hope something interesting happens here.I appreciate your news on the neighborhood.