Lingerie Store Offers Women's Clothing in Former Deli Space

By Meredith Hoffman | April 30, 2012 6:13am 

WILLIAMSBURG — Lace and silk are replacing roast beef and bananas on North Bedford Avenue.

Brooklyn Fox lingerie, which offers designer corsets, bras, and nighties with prices that range from $22 to $440, is one of many new businesses opening its doors in North Williamsburg amid a turnover that's shaking up the neighborhood.

The lingerie store is adding a new outpost one block away from their current location at 132 North Fifth St., in the Bedford Avenue space formerly occupied by Northside Gourmet Deli.

Brooklyn Fox's owner Alexis Schoenberg confirmed that she's opening a women's clothing boutique in the former deli space at 200 Bedford Ave. — and a sign on the door says "Wanted: Retail associate for women's boutique."

The women's clothing store will be the second location for the shop, which boasts on its website that it's "like a candy store for your body" with "the most delectable items that are of the utmost quality and flatter every figure."

The shop's "luxurious lingerie and sexy intimates" include a $114 red lace "Love Brief," a $42 "fatale leopard thong" by Maison Close, and a $130 black-and-transparent bodysuit by Else.

The offerings will be a change of pace for the space, which once offered $6 "Desperate Husband" sandwiches made of turkey, crispy bacon, melted cheddar, lettuce and tomato.

Former Northside Gourmet Deli manager Taha Saleh said the business was forced out of North Williamsburg when its rents doubled in the five years since signing its lease.

"It's ridiculous, how are people supposed to survive?" asked Saleh, who added that the final straw was when the deli's landlord demanded $15,000 a month earlier this year.

"Over there's a hot spot because it's by the L," Saleh added, "We did well there, but once you pay rent, electricity, and employment you make nothing."

Reps for building owner 200-202 Bedford Realty could not be reached for comment.

Saleh, who is part of a group of Yemeni immigrants behind a cluster of delis that previously included Northside Gourmet, relocated to work at a sister deli Aden Food Market, at Bedford Avenue and South Fourth Street.

That space pays $6,000 a month in rent for a space that's twice as large as what Northside had, he said.

Northside is not the only store to withdraw from North Williamsburg in recent months — the Bagel Store and Millenium Health both made the jump to South Williamsburg after their rents shot through the roof just a few blocks up the street.

"We have to build back up our business," said manager Abby Verbosky of Millenium's relocated store now called Bedford Natural near South Second Street.

Verbosky said the landlord at their previous location between North Third and North Fourth asked for about 30 percent higher rent this year, as high-end chains like Whole Foods and prepare to hit the strip.

"They see the neighborhood growing and want to come," she said. The building where Millenium was housed recently changed hands for $68 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Longtime resident and Williamsburg Community Board 1 member Heather Roslund was unfazed by the local shops' migration southward, and said the shift down Bedford Avenue has been happening since she first moved to the neighborhood 17 years ago.

"I remember that building being developed," Roslund wrote of the building that Millenium Foods and the Bagel Store left. "It was a big deal because 'OMG, Bedford is desirable ALL THE WAY DOWN THERE.'

"It seemed so far away at the time," she said of the development about ten years ago.

David Maundrell, the President of real estate brokerage company, said the main current shift on North Bedford is the purchase of buildings to become chains.

"Right now Bedford Avenue in the Northside is trending more to the big box retailers and national chains simply because there has been some larger spaces made available. This will die down once these spaces are filled," he said.

Still, no one debates that the high cost of North Bedford buildings is here to stay.

"Property in North Williamsburg has a higher value due to the proximity of the L Train," he said. "The further south values drop but also so do the sizes of the retail spaces which eliminates larger chains from coming in."

But to Verbosky, Saleh, and others, North Williamsburg's trendiness sabotages sustainable business.

"It's not worth it," said Saleh. "The rent makes all the difference."