PARK SLOPE — Online shoppers are to blame for the closure of a Seventh Avenue outdoor gear store, not rent-hungry landlords, the owner told DNAinfo New York.
Gear to Go Outfitters will close its retail shop April 15 after eight years in the neighborhood, said owner Kevin Rosenberg.
Though landlords often get the blame when small stores close, Rosenberg said that wasn't the case in this instance. In a note he posted outside the store, Rosenberg called out shoppers who claim to love local shops but then spend their dollars online.
"Put down your phone and shop at the great local businesses that are available to you now but are struggling," Rosenberg wrote. "If your life becomes all about your phone, so will your neighborhood and all that will be left will be real estate offices, nail salons, and banks."
Though online retailers have posed a threat to brick and mortar businesses for nearly two decades now, Rosenberg called his store a "canary in a coal mine" and begged locals to "shift your shopping habits back to shopping in your own neighborhood."
"I don’t think people realize that everything they buy online hurts their local community," Rosenberg told DNAinfo New York in a phone interview. "Everyone keeps blaming greedy landlords, but that's not why we're closing. I don’t think people put two and two together. They talk about how much they love mom and pop stores then in the next sentence they talk about the great deal they got on Amazon."
Gear to Go isn't shutting down entirely. The business will move upstate and will continue to rent outdoor equipment — online — such as tents and sleeping bags via one-day shipping. Gear to Go will also continue to lead local hikes and adventure trips to Iceland, Greenland and Norway.
"We're not going out of business, we're just moving and refocusing," Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg started the outdoor outfitter as a website in 2009, then sold his wares from a street stand on Seventh Avenue. In 2011 he opened a small shop at 217 Garfield Place, and expanded to the store's current location a 159 Seventh Ave. in April 2016.
Several businesses have closed on Seventh Avenue in recent months, including Sport Prospect, 4 Play Brooklyn, Goldy + Mac and A Shoe Grows in Brooklyn.
Retail rents on Seventh Avenue are $100 to $149 per square foot, a 35 percent increase from 2007, according to the 2017 Brooklyn Retail Report from real estate firm CPEX. On Park Slope's Fifth Avenue, rents are also $100 to $149 per square foot, but that’s a 322 percent increase from 2007, according to CPEX.
Other recent Openings & Closings in the neighborhood include: