Bed-Stuy Boutique Owner Keeps the Neighborhood 'Fly' With Shop Expansion
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Even a couple of years ago, opening a boutique clothing store in southeast Bed-Stuy may have seemed like a crazy idea.
But Bedstuy Fly, a boutique specializing in urban streetwear, is defying the odds, its owner said, and has now doubled its storefront in an effort to help keep the neighborhood even more "fly."
Owner Stephen Usenbor — who goes by the name "S. King" — purchased the Townhouse Beauty Salon next to his 287 Ralph Ave. shop two years ago, waiting for the right moment to expand.
That moment finally came late last month, King said.
"I felt like it was time," King said. "And if you feel it, you just continue to move and everything will work itself out."
King opened the store almost four years ago in an area of Bed-Stuy not normally known for its high-end retail.
A former barbershop owner of 10 years, King shuttered his Planet Cuts barbershop on Ralph Avenue in 2009 in order to open his new store, a dream the shop owner said he had as a teenager in Bushwick High School.
"From high school, I was always fresh," King said. "All my money went to clothes. I worked to buy clothes."
King at first had a hard time convincing designers to hawk their wares in eastern Bed-Stuy. But after sticking with his vision, the shop owner said, word of mouth started to bring in more and more business — and with that came new designers.
Now, the shop sells sweatshirts ranging from $55 to $200, hats from $35 to $60 and jackets from $90 to $400, among other items. Customers range from Bed-Stuy locals to Staten Islanders and even tourists, who stop in to purchase clothing representing the Brooklyn brand.
Not bad for a dream the owner said seemed "impossible."
"People literally told me, 'Yo, dude, you're crazy,'" King said. "I guess you've got to be crazy sometimes."