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CB3 Votes to Rename Stretch of Nostrand Avenue After Birdel's Record Shop

 Locals hope a stretch of Nostrand Avenue in Bed-Stuy will be renamed after Birdell's record store.
Hardy Joe Long addresses a recent Brooklyn Community Board 3 meeting, where the board voted to rename a stretch of Nostrand Avenue after his former record shop, Birdel's.
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — Locals are pushing to have a stretch of Nostrand Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant renamed to honor one of the neighborhood's longest-running businesses.

Brooklyn Community Board 3 on Thursday voted to rename Nostrand Avenue between Fulton Street and Atlantic Avenue after Birdel's, a legendary Bed-Stuy record store that was around for close to 70 years before closing in 2011.

"Since I retired people have been asking 'where's Birdel's located?'" former owner Hardy Joe Long said at the meeting. "They're saying that they miss the store."

Long, who people came to start calling "Mr. Birdel," starting working in the shop in 1957 as a clerk. The former owner, Benjamin Steiner, named the shop at 535 Nostrand Ave. after his wife and daughter, whose nicknames were Birdie and Della, according to the Daily News.

After riots erupted in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the wake of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assasination, Steiner decided to sell the shop, and Long took over in 1961.

In his time as owner of the store Long collected stories like his customers collected vinyl records. In the 1980s, Long remembers seeing a young Christopher Wallace come in and out of the store, years before selling platinum records as the Notorious B.I.G.

"He used to come down to the store and say, 'Birdel, I want you to help me get beats, tracks, ’cause I know you know them old blues and the good music.'" he wrote in the New York Times. "I said: 'Aw, Biggie, I don’t have time for that.'"

Long said he used to let the young rapper take records into the basement and listen to them with a friend. He remembers hearing the teenager talk about his big dreams.

"[H]e would say, 'I’m going to be big one day, Birdel,' the owner wrote in the Times. "I said, 'Aw, you ain’t going to be nothing.'"

With the changes in the music industry and declining profits, Birdel's went the way of many other record stores, and Long was forced to close two years ago. He packed his estimated 100,000 45s and 10,000 LPs, according to the Times, and went on his way.

Through the years, Long was also an active member of his community, having been the community board 3 chairman in the 1990s, and is still a board member of the Bed-Stuy Gateway, a business improvement distict in the neighborhood.

At the community board meeting, Edmon Braithwaite, a colleague from the Bed-Stuy Gateway talked about Long's generosity, like the time he insisted the Gateway donate money from a wine tasting to kids going to college, or when he helped buy Thanksgiving turkeys from Food Town for the neediest in the neighborhood.

"We consider him an iconic individual in the neighborhood," Braithwaite said.

The decision will now go to the City Council, who must have their own vote on changing the name of the street.