DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Despite its name, there is nothing grumpy about the pink plush gnome, the spotted mushroom backpack or the tea set for two that Albert Chau sells in the small shop he named Grumpy Bert.
The twee gift, toy and art shop is celebrating one year in Downtown Brooklyn, and Chau couldn't be happier.
"In my shop I am surrounded by things that I like and that make me happy," he said. "And people have been really responsive to what I sell. It sounds cheesy, but when people walk through the door they smile."
Chau wanted to open a shop for years and knew that he would name it after the facial expressions he says he can't control.
"A former coworker first called me grumpy and the name stuck," he said. "It seemed like the perfect name for my cutesy shop."
Chau got his start at the now-shuttered Dekalb Market.
"It was my first real physical space, and I had a great time there," he said, noting that people really appreciated his carefully curated items. His good experience at the market pushed him to find a more permanent space.
The storefront he found on Bond Street gave him enough room to show art alongside his inventory. There was also space for his wife to host writing workshops and readings. The shop has become a cozy community meeting place for artists and writers alike.
And after a year in the neighborhood, Chau says he's not going anywhere.
"There are no intentions of franchising Grumpy Bert," he told the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. "I want to keep it local and small, and concentrate on highly curated products and goods."
Grumpy Bert will celebrate one year at 82 Bond St. on Nov. 10.