Beacon Hardware Fundraiser Launched, Though the Store Has No Current Plans to Close

Store-closing-anxiety is sweeping across the Upper West Side, and it convinced one man to launch a fundraiser for a beloved local business — Beacon Paint & Hardware on Amsterdam between 77th and 78th Street.

John McNally, a longtime fan of the store, started a fundraiser to raise $100,000 for Beacon because he says they are “being squeezed by big box stores and the internet like never before. They need our help.” As of 4:50 p.m. on Wednesday it had raised $1,065.

Owners Bruce and Steven Stark told West Side Rag in an email that they are not behind the fundraiser, and didn’t even know about it initially.

“We hope to never close — at least that is the plan. A friend created the Go fund me page, on his own, without telling us. Business, as you know is not easy for a small store, but we are fighting with everything we have. Can we use some help? Sure, and we appreciate the support of so many people. We love this community and we love what we do.”

The owners elaborated on the difficulties of operating a small business on their Facebook page.

As you may know, a Go Fund Me page has been set up for Beacon Paint.

This came about because I was talking to a friend about the Westsider Rare & Used Books on Broadway, and how $50,000 was raised in four days to allow that store to remain open. My friend remarked that we could raise twice that amount. I offhandedly replied, “Gee, that would be nice.” Without saying anything else to me, my friend set up a Go Fund Me page for Beacon Paint & Hardware.

We were a little flabbergasted at first, and embarrassed to even have to ask for assistance, but then thought that maybe the fundraising wasn’t such a bad idea.

Why do we have to take this action? The explanation is actually pretty simple, and one you have probably heard before: Operating a small business – especially in New York City – is tougher than ever. Many customers remark about how drastically the neighborhood has changed. This is true all over. Just recently, the restaurant next door went out of business. STORE FOR RENT signs abound everywhere. No doubt, you have lamented the closing of one or more neighborhood favorites. We are not being overly dramatic when we tell you the same fate could befall Beacon Paint in the not-too-distant future.

So, if you value mom n’ pop businesses (us, in particular), then please read on.

We are not blaming our landlord, who has been magnanimous to help where he could. But we still do have to pay the rent, and it’s a significant expense. Other costs keep going up: Real estate taxes, payroll, health insurance, parking, are the main culprits.

Beacon Paint & Hardware has been here for 119 years and in the Stark Family since 1971. For many years, the competition consisted of just a few other small hardware stores. Today, the omnipresent Amazon rules, with big box stores like Home Depot close behind.

These behemoths have dictated the way business is done. They can easily undercut businesses like ours on price. We understand the bottom line is still the bottom line, but we also believe that customer service, honesty and community service count for something.

We have cut expenses where we could, but we still need your help. We want to be there to support the community as well as the charities. We want to continue supporting all of the community events as well as school auctions.

Without your help, we might not make it to our 120th anniversary. Anything you can do to help is greatly appreciated.

Bruce Stark
Steven Stark
Ellen Stark-Gabe

NEWS | 46 comments | permalink
    1. UWSHebrew says:

      Give me a break. Fundraising for a hardware store. What’s next, fundraising for the corner grocer? I’ll give money to charities or poor, hungry people on the street.

      • jerry says:

        Totally agree. This is getting stupid and the WSR isn’t helping.

      • Hope Reiner says:

        I have only very positive comments about Beacon Paint.
        They have gone out of their way to provide friendly and competent service to me.
        So many little neighborhood stores have closed all over the city and these neighborhoods are not the same without them.
        I believe we should do whatever we can to keep Beacon Paint open.

    2. B.B. says:

      Let me see if I have this straight. A for profit business is seeking charitable donations basically to cover cost of doing business. I knew that bookstore madness was going to spread, but then again maybe that ship had already sailed.

      • Leon says:

        I agree – this is craziness. I am a huge fan of Beacon and try to give them as much business as possible. But I don’t donate money to for-profit businesses.

        We Upper West Siders like to act like we are so much smarter than the rest of the country, but often we really don’t act like it. Being a great intellectual and having common sense are often two very different things…

    3. Diane says:

      You can’t fight the market. The market is the market. Times, they are a changing. No amount of fundraising (ridiculous) will change things. In fact I went to purchase a lightbulb which cost $12.50 and I had to wait for them to order it. I found it online for $5.50. Who is going to spend more than double to keep a store in business?? It’s just not sustainable

      • geoff says:

        A conventional fundraising event offers the donors a little something—a good time, maybe some booze, some food.

        Here you give, what do you get? A place to shop three or four times a year?

        I don’t think so.

        Mere existence is not enough, and I agree with Diane: the 12.50 lightbulb is a ridiculous price to pay, more so when it is not even in stock.

        Try going to the guys on 73rd, just east of columbus. Supreme Hardware, or something. What do I know? I’ve only been here 45 years. They’re the real deal.

      • Cato says:

        — “I went to purchase a lightbulb which cost $12.50 and I had to wait for them to order it. I found it online for $5.50.”

        Paying the store $12.50 for a light bulb that could be had elsewhere for $5.50 is in fact making a charitable (though not deductible) contribution to the store of the excess $7.00.

    4. Steve in Manhattan says:

      Headed there tomorrow to get a gallon of paint, some rollers, a brush or two, and some bulbs. I will remain a loyal customer. And anyone who thinks this is solicited by the business? That is clearly not the case.

    5. Westender says:

      The best way to support Beacon–which is a great local hardware store–is to shop there. A fundraiser is nice, but what matters is the store maintaining its presence, so when you need an odd size light bulb or drill bit and don’t want to wait two days for an Amazon delivery, Beacon will be there to sell it to you. I wish them all the best.

      • Woody says:

        It’s not likely that Beacon has those odd items anymore than brick-and-mortar competition including Home Depot. Items needed in an emergency are always available somewhere in the City. There’s no other hardware I need that can’t wait a couple days if I didn’t plan in advance.

    6. Chrigid says:

      Does Beacon still have the dog?

      • Kat French says:

        The elderly dog died a while ago, but they got a puppy named Delilah last year. She is a sweetheart! Go say hello to her (and buy some stuff while you are there since you obviously have been in a couple of years).

    7. Blume says:

      If anyone knows about how to organize to get a ban on big box stores or a quota in the area that information would be so helpful. This neighborhood is special for many reasons, local businesses are a large part of that. Its important not to take these stores for granted, to make a village it takes a village, supporting local community owners supports more than just the business, this support describes our community. We are all in this together. (Also, please pick up after your dogs it’s really gross and anti social to ignore that responsibility!!!)

      • Woody says:

        How do you know that these local businesses are owned by local residents? Are their employees local residents? Non-local owners/employees don’t spend the bulk of their earnings in the neighborhood at other neighborhood businesses. If that’s the case, why would you care about the size of a business if you have a better selection of what you need at better prices during longer business hours.

        It’s comical to think about a Manhattan neighborhood as a village when it’s a major urban area teeming with people and businesses that cater to many diverse interests. If you want a small town experience, you’re living in the wrong locale.

      • B.B. says:

        NYC effectively already bans “big box stores” on the UWS and other parts of the city via zoning. Has done so since 2012 at the urging of then Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and others including IIRC Ms. Brewer.

        Joke turned out to be on city as thanks to online Walmart, Amazon and so forth don’t need huge physical stores to move merchandise. (owned by Walmart) has healthy NYC sales without the hassle and costs of maintaining a large physical store.

    8. Albert175 says:

      It pains me to agree with the 3 previous posts, but yes : business is business , not a charitable undertaking.

    9. bnyc says:

      To those complaining- this fundraiser isn’t hurting you, so what’s the problem? This isn’t just a corner grocer, either. It’s been in business over a century! I shop there and enjoy the friendly staff and sense of community. I also donate to charities and to hungry people in the neighborhood, so if want to get behind this fundraiser because I don’t want Beacon to close like so many neighborhood gems have, I will! How about just being positive?

      • Superstores says:

        Its time to move on, God bless the super stores and God bless Amazon!

      • UWSHebrew says:

        “business over a century” — so what? it’s a hardware store, not a historical landmark.

      • Woody says:

        It’s nonsensical because such fundraisers are usually conducted for extraordinary situations. What is Beacon going to use the funds for? If it’s to cover current operating expenses, that’s not a good enough reason. I would have to hear they have a plan that using such funds would create a sustainable situation through strategic investment in either inventory, equipment, or expansion.

    10. Renee says:

      I LOVE Beacon paints. The guys there aren’t just selling hardware and paint, they are there to help. And that always do- even if they direct me elsewhere. I know i’ll Be spending big bucks on a/c this year- and i’ll Do it at Beacon!

    11. Deborah says:

      I remember when the whole neighborhood helped the stationery and toy store on 72 St. stay open. I’ll be happy to be sure to do my hardware shopping in your store.

    12. Pedestrian says:

      Some commentators are acting as if big business doesn’t enjoy many taxpayer provided benefits that aren’t available to small businesses that don’t have big money lobbyists and the Mayor’s ear. Have you read about the taxpayer supported hand outs to the owners of Hudson Yards? You paid for billionaires to have apartments in the sky!

      I always try Beacon First and you should too but get real folks we need to save our small businesses or NYC neighborhoods will no longer exist, just massive buildings for billionaires and big box stores whose life cycle is like a fruit fly. Donate if you can, shop there too.

      • Woody says:

        It’s really easy to taint every attack against big business by dropping buzz words like ‘Hudson Yards’. I doubt you really understand the complexity of that situation.

        I challenge you to give some examples of the “many taxpayer provided benefits that aren’t available to small businesses”. Keep in mind the economies of scale that local governments use to engineer growing the tax base which benefits everyone.

      • Jay says:

        Those “handouts” were primarily for a new subway stop and tunnel, a public school and decking the area so that taxable buildings could actually sit atop a working railyard. All of those things benefit the city. Subsidizing a particular store does not benefit the city as a whole.

        Regardless, if someone wants to waste their money on “saving” a private business for a few months, they are free to do so.

    13. Lis Anderson says:

      NEWS FLASH: The Beacon THEATRE would not be there TODAY, if the Community didn’t fight, tooth and nail years ago, save IT from IDIOTS!!!

    14. AC says:

      Fellas, this is going to backfire. I suggest that your friend remove this fundraiser. You’ll end up losing patrons over this.

    15. Evan Bando says:

      A fundraiser for a business? To essentially pay for a current or future rent increase? Shouldn’t the business convert to a co-op if they can’t do it on their own?

    16. Juan says:

      I would like to add on to my comments above that though I strongly support local stores and try my best to buy things there, it isn’t fair to demonize larger stores. Just at my kids local public school I know several normal, middle class families where one of the parents works for one of the hated companies (I can think of several who work for Amazon or one of its subsidiaries).

      These companies also help our neighbors pay their bills and put food on the table. Do I support corporate welfare for these companies? No. But they do also help to support our community by providing jobs. There is something to be said for that.

      • dannyboy says:

        There IS a difference between owner operated small stores and Amazon.

        The owner is more committed.

        Large corporations’ like Amazon don’t commit even to their employees.

    17. UWSider says:

      It would be totally appropriate to promote a “Shop Local” campaign: Neighbors who want Beacon to stay should make a point of shopping there and encouraging others to do the same. Owners might also need to take some cues re: social media marketing and how to play up customer service & in-store experiential events to challenge e-commerce. But Go Fund Me campaigns should be reserved for those in real need. And there’s no comparison her with Westside Books, which was slated to close immediately. Now that store, with the help of neighbors, has a year’s reprieve to figure out a more viable business strategy.

    18. Mark Moore says:

      Fundraising for a store doesn’t do anything besides provide the landlord with another month or two of rent. If a store if failing then it’s going to fail even if you throw money at it.

    19. Takemymoney says:

      I hope they stay open. I love buying $30 hammers and $8 lightbulbs.

    20. B.B. says:

      If I am going to “give” a for profit business money I want a piece of the action. That is what investors are all about.

      Can see giving your SIL, daughter, son or even wife money to start-up/run a business that you *know* likely won’t bring a return, and or otherwise won’t be seen again. But to “donate” money to a supposedly for profit business just seems like throwing good money after bad.

      If a business needs money and the venture is viable, that is also what banks are for; establishing a line of credit to use when times are slow/bad.

    21. Sean says:

      Someone please start a fundraiser to pay the rent on my apartment.

      • B.B. says:

        Oh those are nothing new; back in the day they were called “rent parties”.

        Cook up some plentiful but inexpensive food (or maybe someone donated), cheap beer or booze (ditto), then charge a small cover at the door.

        Mind you this was back in the day when rents were way less than today. Raising a few hundred to pay off back rent (and maybe have some left for future rent) when things were only a few hundred per month is one thing. Don’t know where someone would start to raise nearly five or more thousand dollars when rent is $1,800 per month and person is three months behind.

    22. Gerald Lynas says:

      I will add a note to my mural on the front of PS 87 to thank Beacon Hardware for their generous contribution of paint since 1976.

      • Uncle Sam says:

        I don’t think you realize. They charge customers a pretty penny, because about approximately 2%-3% of the extra charge goes to their charitable contributions (such as paint for school projects and local community works). They get the tax break, you don’t. 🙁

    23. Kat French says:

      There is a HUGE difference between a locally-owned store and Amazon. My son worked for a specialty store in another city. In addition to gaining retail and customer service experience, over time he moved up and learned bookkeeping, ordering, interviewing and hiring, even how to pass a fire inspection. The owner became a close friend and mentor. Sadly, the store went out of business (not unlike the UWS) and, in desperation, my son took a job at an Amazon shipping facility. There he is expected to pack 90 boxes AN HOUR. They give new employees two months to get up to speed or they are fired. They work a ten-hour day with one 30-minute lunch break and two 15-minute breaks. Otherwise it is relentless “human automation.” It is the most unfeeling company you can imagine. I have drastically curtailed my use of Amazon since learning how they treat their employees.

    24. B.B. says:

      As if on cue last Sunday’s NYT Metropolitan section did a cover story on “Endangered Spaces”; the vanishing small/mom & pop retail.

      Among the several businesses profiled was Tea & Sympathy who one mentioned previously in this thread also did a GoFundMe fundraiser to remain in business. Owners netted > $40k from that effort. However piece also gives lie to the oft dragged out comments regarding “greedy landlords” are forcing small businesses out.

      T&S LL lowered rent, and forgave part of back rent. All in aid of keeping the place and its two other locations open.

      Such generosity has limits and T&S won’t be getting further reductions in rent.

      All this being said, and as interviews with several other small businesses make clear; the city (and world for that matter) is changing. With those changes many are simply finding it difficult to earn enough to keep doors open.

    25. Hope Reiner says:

      I can’t say enough positive things about Beacon Paint and Hardware Store. I needed a tiny inexpensive part to a
      light fixture and Bruce Stark went out of his way to special order for me, email when he ordered it and then again when it was ready to be picked up.
      I think that what makes a neighborhood livable and enjoyable are the small local stores. Too many have closed and we have the opportunity to keep them open.

    26. Steven Stark says:

      As the owner of Beacon Paint, I would like to respond to those of you who are less than thrilled with the idea of raising money for a for-profit business.

      I don’t totally disagree with you, but we are not just about making a profit. We proudly give to the community, too. For 10 years, we recycled fluorescent light bulbs. Due to the exorbitant cost (approximately $1,000 a year), we finally had to stop.

      Next week, you might see some youngsters working with the 20th and 24th precincts painting over graffiti on mailboxes and street lamps. With the help of our suppliers, we are donating the paint and supplies. We have done this for the better part of 10 years, and hope to continue doing so. We have worked with The Computer School, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts and The Dome Project. The NYPD even had some non-violent first-time offenders perform their community service working with us.

      We continually support the local schools. I was once told that we were the largest non-parent donor for to P.S. 87.
      This year we donated auction prizes to 10 different schools.

      Of course, you don’t have to give, but as a Rabbi once told me, “When we need help, we call on our friends to help us, and we do this because we know they will.”

      Many of the awards we have received over the years specifically mention our dedication to and connection with the community.

      As for the person who said, “God Bless the Superstores,” well, be careful what you wish for.

      By the way, I have lived in the neighborhood for more than two decades (West End/84th and 88th before that), and my brother lives on West 76th Street. Even the previous owners of Beacon lived on the Upper West Side.

      To those who have supported us, thank you for the bottom of our hearts. We hope to be here for a long time, and will always help the community when we can.