A Bay Ridge fixture has said goodbye after over a century in business.
Kruchkow’s Shoe Store, 7808 Fifth Avenue, has shut up shop.
Behind the pulled-down gates, the signs read, “Closed” and “To all our loyal customers, thank you for 110 wonderful years.”
The store was family-owned and most recently run by Seth Kruchkow, who had been active with the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) for many years.
“The store has been around for so many years. I have purchased many of my shoes there myself,” James Clark, a member of the board of directors of the BID, said. “It was the last of the old-time shoe stores where you got waited on and your shoe was fitted. They just got tired. I’m sad to see it go. Now you have to buy your shoes by mail or you have to go over to the mall and fit your own shoes at times and you never know if you have the right size.”
Clark believes the store’s closing will leave a gap in the neighborhood.
“I hope Bay Ridge misses a place like this,” he added. “It’s sad. Seth was a pioneer for his time. He was very active in the old Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Board of Trade. When we formed the BID, he was right there, enthusiastically supported it and served on the board of directors.”
Nonetheless, he said, Kruchkow thought it was time to retire.
“I know he has mixed feelings,” he said. “He was tired and it was time. No one else in his family wanted the business.”
Vice President of the BID Basil Capetanakis, who said that Kruchkow’s wife “was running the store towards the end,” blamed the rise of internet commerce for mom-and-pop shops like Kruchkow’s closing.
“That’s the problem. The young people, they all shop on the internet,” he said. “They are having difficulty because of that. I tell you, it’s a pity. But, what are you going to do? These are the facts of life now.”
Like Clark, Capetanakis told this paper that the Kruchkow family had said it was time to call it quits.
“They figured it was time to retire,” he said. “It’s a pity because it was a great store throughout the years with wonderful people to deal with. But sometimes, things change. I don’t know if it’s for the better or worse, but they change.”
President of the Scandinavian East Coast Museum and local preservationist Victoria Hofmo concurred.
“I’m sad they’re closing,” she said. “110 years is amazing and quite a legacy. It’s one thing to open a business but it’s another thing to keep it going for so long.”