BY VICTOR PORCELLI
BAY RIDGE– After a brief seven-month recovery, the Painted Pot is once again set to shutter in August. The DIY ceramics shop will join the scores of empty storefronts plaguing Bay Ridge by the end of the month.
The shop was a place for people to stop in and paint a pre-formed ceramic piece of their choosing. Owner Liza Mendoza, 54, posted on Facebook on August 3 to inform customers of the company’s impending departure from Bay Ridge, although it will retain its locations in Cobble Hill and Park Slope.
“Thank you to all our loyal customers in Bay Ridge. August 31, 2019 will be our last day of painting in our Bay Ridge location. It’s with a heavy heart, I will need to close this location,” the post reads. “It’s been an amazing 21 years painting pottery with you and being part of the Bay Ridge community.”
Mendoza made a similar post in January, when the location was originally set to close. Many patrons of the shop — which offers walk-ins, classes, camps and children’s parties — expressed regret over the news, taking to Facebook to wish Mendoza well or share a favorite memory of the shop.
However, Mendoza’s changed her mind when five-year-old Bryan Rumfelt touched her heart. Bryan’s father Keith sent Mendoza a video of the child walking up to the shop’s window, reading a sign about the coming closure and breaking into hysterics. According to his parents, the store is one of Bryan’s “favorite places ever.” His reaction led Mendoza to decide to keep the store open.
“Bryan made me realize how important our business has been to the community over the past 20 years,” Mendoza told Brooklyn Reporter at the time. “And that comes from all of the support that we’ve received but Bryan – his reaction was so genuine and so real and it made me realize that there might be other children who are feeling this way as well.”
Months later, the store is set to close again. Customers’ reactions on Facebook were much the same as in January, with one user commenting, “So sad. Our family outings there were great.”
One past patron reminisced about time spent at the shop. “So sad I had such a nice time with my niece here,” she commented.
With more than 60 vacant storefronts in southwest Brooklyn, the Painted Pot’s closing is adding to what many residents see as a worrying trend. Councilmember Justin Brannan, who represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Bath Beach, wrote an op-ed in this paper on the topic.
In the op-ed, Brannan called the situation “complicated,” and stated that there were multiple causes leading to the same effect — stretches of “For Rent” signs in places like Bay Ridge.
Gentrification incentivizes landlords to evict tenants and raise rents, mom-and-pop shops face competition from online retailers and impending zoning changes encourage building owners to ‘warehouse’ storefronts. All these factors contribute to closures, the councilmember said.
Mendoza previously stated that she hoped to sell the location to another owner, and offered to consult with the buyer, saying “My current staff would be more than grateful to remain in Bay Ridge.”