Rowf on Hicks Street Moving

img00146There’s movement afoot at Rowf, the specialty pet store located on Hicks and Middagh streets.

The store is having a moving sale, touting savings of 20-60 % off.

Where the store is moving, however, is still a mystery– even to the owners.

“We just found out a couple of weeks ago,” said Yuning Chiu, co-owner of Rowf. “We’re just trying to focus on moving out by the end of the month.”

Chiu said they were forced to relocate the store, which opened in late 2004, because the landlord wanted them to sign a long-term lease.

While she would like to keep the store in the Brooklyn Heights, Chiu said that if she did, it would have to be on the “outskirts” of the neighborhood, because rent prices on Henry and Montague streets are too high.

Those who want to follow where the store will relocate can check for updates on the store’s website.

“Scooby and Boo are going to miss coming to work everyday,” Chiu said, referring to the two adorable dogs that roam the store.

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  • nabeguy

    As a neighbor of this store, I’m dismayed at its loss and that the landlord has chosen to play hardball in an economic downturn. The space is miniscule, but Yuning managed to make the most of it and created a brilliant and inviting presence on the block. My best wishes to her in her relocation efforts and best of luck to the landlord in finding a viable tenant to replace her.

  • AEB

    Greatly saddened by the loss of Rowf–as a very proximate neighbor and BH citizen.

    Hoping that the space, which Yuning handled so beautifully, will not go long empty–and will be rented by someone of equal taste and sensibility. The neighborhood was better for Rowf’s presence.

    Good luck, Yuning!

  • Adam G

    I don’t understand the landlords charging sky-high rents on Henry and Montague. Is the mere possibility of being able to get higher-paying tenants whenever the economy recovers really worth having storefronts stay empty for months and years?

    (To say nothing that the US is massively overstocked on commercial real estate as a result of the construction and financial boom anyway…)

  • mhon

    Rowf did an amazing job converting the space into the most cutest store in the neighborhood. Their presence was like a bright shiny star in the otherwise dreary stretch of block. It will be a sad little corner without them. Char will miss the store too. xoxo

  • AEB

    ((bristles)) A dreary stretch of block, mhon? As a resident on that stretch I take exception!

    We have everything here a human could need–which includes sights that delight, such as wood-frame houses; a middle-Eastern pizzeria with permanent Christmas-light garlanding; a terrific floral store-front apartment display; an almost brand-new lamppost; a kool building design business; and, just a few feet away very decorous firemen.

    Why not come and linger? And bring Char, so cleverly depicted.

  • David on Middagh

    Adam G, I don’t understand, either. I have heard that since commercial leases are long term (e.g., 10 years), it is worth a landlord’s while to wait for a high-paying tenant. If a landlord thinks he can get 20% more than what he’s currently charging, he has almost two years to find such a tenant. But meanwhile, the empty storefront is a blight on the community, and no doubt reduces business for neighboring establishments, which reduces the rent that other landlords can charge.

  • BklynLifer

    As a former store leaser in the nabe, I can say that many store commercial leases in this area are for 5 years. The odd thing about the landlord for Rowf, is that apparently he’s refusing to allow her to go month to month. She doesn’t want to commit to a new 5 year lease. You’d think the landlord would want a paying business in the space while he decides if he can find someone else in this bad economy to commit to a long term lease.

    IMHO, the landlord is making a big mistake–but this landlord has a lot of holdings and likely isn’t managing the day to day. He’s got representatives who do his negotiating.

    I’ve been told that the landlord’s representative is Alan Young. The same guy who was recently disbarred and a partner in the whole “Busted Chef” scandal.

    Perhaps that says a lot about how closely the landlord is looking at his own business.

  • AEB

    BKLifer, you’re joking, right? The landlord is completely reputable. As for the month-to-month issue–your guess is as good as mine.

    As admirable as Rowf is (was?), one got the sense that it didn’t do terribly well. Perhaps the five-year lease (assuming that that was offered) was simply more than the owner felt she could agree to profitably.

    Perhaps the landlord gave the owner an out she was looking for. After all, she seems…unmotivated to finding another location.

  • AEB

    (that’s “…unmotivated to find…” )

  • BklynLifer

    I heard the Alan Young comment staight from Rowf. She didn’t know about Young’s reputation until I pointed her to BHB.

  • No One Of Consequence

    Commercial tenants *usually* WANT a longer term lease such that they can invest in and build their business knowing that their location is secure and not subjected to swings in the market rate.
    If she doesn’t feel that she could afford to see her way through the end of a multi-year lease, then she should close up shop or move to cheaper digs. Such is business.

  • XYZ

    Some people amaze me. Always complaining that there are no mom and pop shops around or they closing but then looking at the support they get from you no wonder they do not choose to stay around. Some of u seem to be very good with words but seem to lack action. Sometime I just wish every single store and restaurant in BH is closing down for good so that you finally have a reason to complain. But then I am gonna turn around and just say: “Such is business”, move to new digs.

    I am not sure what else you want to go into that place. Its too small for a bar or deli, to small for a McDonalds or any other of your favorite chain stores. Lets make it another designer office space? Yeah….

    Cant wait for your wise comments on that one.

  • Snoopy

    What was it before Rowf?

  • XYZ

    It was a kind of a coffee shop/deli. They increased the rent and the store closed. However, I think the coffeshot/deli was bigger and after it closed the might have split the space and made the back part of the store an apartment.

  • AEB

    There IS an apartment on the building’s first floor.

    And, XYZ, I feel you exaggerate–or perhaps don’t appreciate the fact that there are THREE pet stores within a six block radius of Rowf. Rather a saturated market that is “niche” to begin with.

    And Rowf ONLY catered to dogs. As much as would have liked to patronize Rowf regularly–I have cats.

  • nabeguy

    XYZ, it was Paula’s Place before Rowf, primarily a coffee/candy/news-stand. I believe the apartment pre-existed that, but in any case, the space has always been a small one, dating back to my memories of the 60’s, when it was run as a soda/candy/stationary/what-have-you store by a woman named Evelyn. She flourished during the school term, but idled over the summer months.

  • Jazz

    We need a sweet shop.

  • nabeguy

    Jazz, define sweet. Having just come from a kid’s party at Dylan’s Candy Bar, I sensed a distinct opportunity, albeit on a much smaller scale.

  • AEB

    Nabe, a woman who lives in “Rowf’s building” told me recently that the space, previous to Rowf’s installation, was vacant for a long enough (and apparently unmonitored) time for a homeless person to (somehow) take up residence therein.

    Was also told that the space was rented as an office (to my informant’s former husband) for awhile previous to that.

    Does any of this jibe with your recollections?


  • No One Of Consequence

    The post says nothing about a rent increase, only that they sought a long-term lease, which, as I pointed out, is something that commercial tenants are usually looking for.
    I’m all for mom and pop shops, but that doesn’t mean that I think they are exempt from good business practices.

  • XYZ

    @ AEB

    Rowf did not only cater to dogs. Sure you wouldnt get cat litter or whiskas there, but they had food and toys for cats.
    As far as the other 3 pet stores go, I make it a choice not to go to two of them. Therefore the market is not really saturated for me.

  • Joanne

    Rowf had a lot of (very) loyal customers who went out of their way to go there. (of which I am one). I am looking forward to seeing their new store when it reemerges and becoming a customer again!!

    I’ll miss their artistic windows on Middagh Street!