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Boutique 'By Brooklyn' to Close Amid Declining Foot Traffic on Smith Street

 By Brooklyn, a Smith Street boutique that specialized in products made in the borough, is closing this month, the owner said.
By Brooklyn, a Smith Street boutique that specialized in products made in the borough, is closing this month, the owner said.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal; Tom Scola; Facebook/By Brooklyn

CARROLL GARDENS — By Brooklyn, a boutique that sold only goods made in Brooklyn, is closing its doors as Smith Street experiences a loss of foot traffic in recent times, owner Gaia DiLoreto said. 

The shop will close at the end of the month after five years at 261 Smith St. near Degraw Street, she said. A second By Brooklyn store opened last May in Williamsburg, but that location shuttered late last year.

Unlike other mom-and-pop businesses that have shuttered amid the rising cost of real estate, By Brooklyn did not see a rent hike, DiLoreto said. Her lease is set to expire at the end of April.

But the lack of shoppers and pedestrians on Smith Street has made it challenging to sustain a business on the once hot commercial corridor. 

"Even if I were to renew my lease, there's not enough traffic on Smith Street to support my business," she said. "Smith Street is just in such a bad way right now."

After years working in corporate Manhattan, DiLoreto decided to start By Brooklyn but had initially hoped to sell only food products made in Brooklyn. She later branched into all kinds of products when she finally opened in 2011. 

"I didn't ever dream of opening a store," she said.

Along with its Brooklyn-made goods, which ranged from food products to jewelry and home decor, By Brooklyn was also known for its neighborhood events, including an Oktoberfest party in celebration of Schnauzers and Dachshunds and a Bastille Day fête for French bulldogs. (Humans and other breeds were invited, too). 

But as residents in the surrounding neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, grow older and settle down, fewer people are going out and patronizing local businesses, she said. 

The loss of Met Foodmarket on Smith Street did not help matters, she said. For shops and restaurants located in the blocks between the two F/G stops at Bergen Street and Carroll Street, many owners relied on pedestrians walking to the grocery store and passing by their businesses.

"Losing the grocery store really, really hurt this community," DiLoreto said. 

Smith Street is still lined with vacant storefronts and has seen multiple closures in the last year, including popular bourbon bar Char No. 4, clothing boutique Teddy and restaurants Baluchi's and Mad Dogs & Beans. 

A report from the Real Estate Board of New York last year found that Smith Street between Atlantic Avenue and Carroll Street had an average asking rent of $121 per square foot for retail spaces. Court Street, which runs parallel to Smith Street, had some of the highest retail rents in the borough. 

By Brooklyn will host a five-year celebration and farewell party on April 23.