RCI, an appliance store on 98th street and Broadway that first opened 80 years ago, is set to close in the next few weeks after losing its lease.
“We are going to miss this,” Kenny Dhanani told us on Saturday. “We are really heartbroken. You can do business anywhere but the neighborhood is really important to us. Everybody here knows each other by face. People are coming into the store with tears in their eyes.”
Dhanani said it’s been hard to stay in business the last few years, and the landlord is raising the rent.
The store was opened by Leon Rubin in 1934, who would sit in the front window fixing radios in a white doctor’s smock, the kind of gag that endeared him to the neighborhood. Back then it was called Radio Clinic.
Leon’s son Alan Rubin ran the shop after his father. His daughter Jen is writing a book about the store and the neighborhood, and we featured her amazing story of how her father kept the store running after the looting in 1977.
For context, Zabar’s opened on 80th and Broadway in 1934. It’s not clear if there are any other businesses in the neighborhood that are older — and still at the same location.
Bruce Bernstein, who sent in the photo above, said the store always had great service, and was a fixture in the neighborhood.
“Perhaps I paid a tiny bit more than shopping at the superstore chains (and it really was a very small difference — I checked the prices), but I made a point of buying there. They gave personal service, they would take an appliance back, their delivery was reliable.
When I went in today (Sat), people were streaming into the store, all very sad and angry at the landlord. This store really was an UWS institution. The UWS continues to lose its unique commercial character.”
Others also wrote in to share their sadness.
RCI will probably close in a couple of weeks, Dhanani said.