Beacon Paint & Hardware Closes After 120 Years

Beacon Paint & Hardware on closing day.

By Carol Tannenhauser

After 120 years on Amsterdam Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets, Beacon Paint & Hardware is closing its doors for good at the end of this Presidents Day. Bruce Stark, who owns the store with his brother Steven and his sister Ellen, spoke with WSR by phone as closing time drew near. His voice cracked and he paused for a moment when we asked him how he is feeling.

“Heartbroken,” he said. “Devastated. It’s the same old story. Business has slowed down, we have no winter…” His voice trailed off. He has worked at the store, which his father purchased from the previous owner in 1971, for 48 years.

The good news is that the three Stark siblings are joining Janovic Paint & Decorating Center, on 72nd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam, Bruce as the manager, Steven as an outside salesman, and Ellen in the office. Three Beacon employees are going with them. Bruce admits, in some ways, it will be a relief. “I’ve been working seven days a week for the past two years, and stressing every minute.”

Bruce made a point of saying that his landlord, The Brusco Group, had bent over backwards to help him stay in business. He also said that Janovic had tried to figure out a way to buy Beacon and keep it in place, but it couldn’t be worked out. Bruce hopes to continue the community improvement work he has donated over the years, he said.

Bruce in better times. Photograph by Lisa Alpert.

He posted the following heartfelt goodbye on the store’s Facebook page.

It is with a broken heart, and profound sadness that we must inform you that after 120 years, Beacon Paint & Hardware will be closing.
We have loved every minute of serving the Upper West Side. We love our customers, our neighbors, the schools, the students, parents, dogs and everyone else who shopped here or just came in to see our dogs or to say hello.
It was our pleasure to support any cause the community asked us to. We would not have lasted as long as we did without our wonderful customers, neighbors and community.
We loved you and you loved us right back. The support you had for us was overwhelming.
We knew you could shop cheaper elsewhere, but so many of you came back to us time and time again. What beautiful people you are. We can’t thank you enough for all your support.
We will still be in the neighborhood, though. We are going to work for Janovic Paints. I will be manager of their West 72nd Street store (between Amsterdam & Columbus). Steven and Ellen will also have jobs with Janovic; Steven will be an outside salesman, and Ellen will be in their office.
Please come by and say hello. I miss my friends already. Please continue to come to me to ask for any kind of donations. I will need to get permission first, of course, but will continue to support the community as much as I can.
When our father bought this store in 1971, the competition was three small hardware stores, and one paint store. Today, it is the two largest companies ever. I still believe that in a fair fight, we would have kicked Home Depot’s rear, but there seems to be a shortage of fairness these days.
For the record, our landlord, The Brusco Group, was willing to bend over backwards for us. They offered to do whatever they could, but there were too many other factors involved.
You will still be able to contact us at the numbers and emails listed below:
With love,
Bruce Stark: Bruce@beaconpaint.com (347) 538-4050 Steven Stark: Steven@beaconpaint.com (347) 538-4020 Ellen Stark-Gabe: Ellen@beaconpaint.com (516) 238-7067 Mel Stark (Dad)
Evelyn Stark (Mom- deceased) Dinah
and Bru (deceased)

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 70 comments | permalink
    1. Ben David says:

      Another example of a greedy landlord! Oh wait, we live on the UWS and we can’t blame the landlord in this case?
      On a serious note, this is a true loss for the neighborhood. What fine people! Wishing Bruce and the Beacon team best of luck for the future!

      • Bruce Stark says:

        No Ben, The Bruscos have always been good to us. They worked very hard to help keep us here, but there were too many factors involved.
        They were on my side the whole time, and tried to work things out.

        • Elizabeth says:

          Hi,

          I’m so sorry for your loss, and for ours. I will miss your store. Good luck with your new job.

          Take care.

        • Ben David says:

          Yes, Bruce, that is great to hear and it was very clear in the article.
          I was just joking about how everyone on the UWS blames landlords for everything. Once again, best of luck to you all and thanks for all that you do!

    2. Bob Lamm says:

      Awful news. Just seeing this at 5:15 p.m. and hoping to see the brothers before they close. I’m SO sad.

    3. Zanarkand says:

      I really appreciate that they didn’t try to blame the landlord and no amount of donations could help the inevitable, only prolong it. The way business and commerce is done, especially in the last 10-15 years has changed so much that some businesses can’t compete. We all buy things differently now. Sure, we visit places like this every now and again but not to the level that they need for them to remain in business. Sad to see them ago! Wishing the owners and employees the best!

      • Bob Lamm says:

        Got there before closing. Alas, Steve had already left, but I had a really nice chat with Bruce. So sad.

    4. Margaret H. Velard says:

      Almost five years ago, I moved away from the upper west side where we lived around the corner for 40+ years. Beacon Paint had been a touchstone for me. They will be sorely missed.

    5. Scott says:

      So is there a going out of business sale?

    6. lynn says:

      Kudos to the family for hanging on as long as they did. I don’t know about the rest of you but every time a handyman or super did a repair in my apartment they knew they could ‘pop out’ and get whatever they needed here. So where does one go when they need necessary items for bathroom and kitchen repairs, etc if there isn’t a hardware store?

      • cma says:

        FYI, ACE Hardware @90th St. and Columbus. Another hardware store at 89th st. and Amsterdam. And another larger one further uptown at @98th and Amsterdam. Although, none so community minded more immediately in neighborhood. Then again there are no bookstores from 86th to 106th street, either.

        • lynn says:

          Thank you for the info! Just by coincidence I was at Mt. Sinai on Columbus and 90th this morning and noticed the ACE hardware store. I’ll make a note of both of them. 🙂

        • Ruth Bonnet says:

          There’s a great hardware store on 99th and Broadway, SW corner. Just FYI. This is a very sad story.

    7. Mark says:

      We would always get spray bottles from there on hot summer days on the playground at P.S.87. This store predates Teddy Roosevelt being president.

    8. Leon says:

      Very sad to hear they are leaving. Whenever possible I took my business there – it wasn’t much, but the convenience of their location and their service made it a no-brainer. They were always knowledgeable and helpful. Best of luck to them in their new roles. I am very curious to see what fills the space.

      And kudos to the owners for their honesty and taking the heat off the landlords – the knee-jerk reaction to these situations is to immediately blame the “greedy” landlords.

    9. Harriet says:

      I was an occasional customer, who could certainly not keep them in business, but tried when I could. Big question, will they let the dog hang out at Janovic? That’s one of the reasons I always came to Beacon if I needed ANY hardware/light bulb/key item.

      • Steven Stark says:

        Dinah is taking time off to write a book. I’ve seen the ruff draft. It’s not bad. She will likely be in doggie daycare on weekdays. Sorry…

    10. ZoomZ says:

      It ain’t over ’till it’s over…..
      Well – it’s over for this fine establishment.
      Been dealing with them since 1965!
      A couple of years ago they built for me 3 full size radiator covers, made of metal.
      Try to find another place that will do it. Good luck searching!
      The signs are on the walls…..
      NYC is going down the drain.
      The super rich and the super poor will be the only ones left.
      The middle class is getting squeezed out.
      Crime is on the rise.
      Cost of living is way up.
      Affordable housing does not exist anymore.
      Good luck to us all.
      Thanks Beacon folks. You were grand!

    11. Christine says:

      This one hit hard. Bruce and his siblings are such lovely people always so helpful and kind to the kids and dogs.
      Had I known I too would have stopped by to thank them. When I moved to the UWS 45 years ago our neighborhood was mostly mom and pop stores like theirs and it was wonderful. I feel so sad that they were forced out. Bruce in particular was so kind to my young grandson Declan when he came to live with me following the loss of both his parents. And I knew he was safe when he was at Beacon getting help for his endless projects. He will be very sad too when I tell him.

    12. Brusco Tenant says:

      I never thought I’d see someone say something redeeming about the Brusco Group. Not sure I totally believe it, though. (Too many complaints abound in my own experience and among anyone I know who’s dealt with them.) Farewell, Beacon Paint & Hardware. You’ll be missed.

    13. dog lover says:

      I would just walk in there sometimes to pet the dog! Sorry to see you guys go and best of luck in the new business!

    14. Ruth Haiblum says:

      Thank you for all the years of beacon. You will always be part of the community changes in real estate are inevitable however nothing cannot change our hearts

    15. Emoh Toped says:

      I will fondly remember the “Plumber’s Menorah” they assembled from plumbing parts and displayed in their window every year.

    16. Katie Pearlman says:

      Our Dad fancied himself a handy guy, and when we lived on 78th St in the late 60’s into the 70’s we shopped at Beacon with him all the time. He continued to live there into the 21st Century and continued to fiddle with stuff in his house. Any small business is a loss, but this one is personal. Glad you will be able to go to Janovic. All good luck!

    17. Beth says:

      Horrible. Support your local businesses

    18. Michael Burguieres says:

      Thanks so much Bruce. You are a good man and you and your staff always helped in a friendly manner. Beacon Hardware will be missed.

    19. Kristi Boyce says:

      I audibly gasped when I saw this subject line in my inbox. I live across the street and came in any time I needed something (although my building’s amazing handyman Brian usually beat me to the punch!). Team Beacon, we LOVE you and we are mourning with you! THANK YOU for your tireless work all these years. I am taking my dog across the street RIGHT NOW and leaving a love note on your door! (It will ALWAYS be your door.)

    20. michael doran says:

      So glad you & some special teammates won’t have to go far to continue offering fantastically good advice & kindness.

    21. You won’t miss us. We will come and annoy you. Promise! Good luck and I hope you get a vacation.

    22. Ellen Count says:

      I didn’t know this store, since I live farther uptown. But I happened to pass by a couple of weeks ago and was able to grab a paint chip. Even though I recalled the color name only approximately, the owner knew what color I meant and produced it fast — and so courteously. On that freezing evening, I was happy to easily find what I needed and head home.
      Sad for all the dinosaur stores and their people, who knew what service meant to their customers. Glad the Starks made a good transition and will continue to be valued for their esprit and expertise.

    23. Gail Dubov says:

      Bruce, this is a sad loss for what defined the West Side for many years. I will miss you as will the entire neighborhood. You and your family gave us the gift of a small business who knew their stuff and welcomed us as neighbors and friends. I’m glad you’ll be at Janovic but nothing will compare to walking through your door into a real authentic hardware store with employees who knew what we’d need whether it was to paint or repair a leaky faucet . My thanks to you and from all of us in the West 83rd St Block Association.

    24. Renee says:

      They were wonderful! Smart, good advice, great helpful people who always had time for their neighbors. So sorry they’re leaving.

    25. Nicole says:

      Sorry to read this. I shopped there when I lived in the neighborhood. I frequent the hardware stores near me now, not Home Depot. Don’t do your shopping online, or even at big box stores, and then complain when the neighborhood stores close.

    26. Ethan says:

      Thanks for the:

      sandpaper
      light bulbs
      Minwax
      rags
      extension cords
      turpentine
      rubber gloves
      etc.

      Best wishes,

      Your neighbor

    27. Westender says:

      I’m glad Bruce and Steve are reading this post so we can say thanks and goodbye and have it heard. It’s hard when a true neighborhood store says goodbye. Thanks once more for the donation you gave my kids’ school, Bruce, and for being there and holding on as long as you did.

      I live a little farther away now and make it a point to shop my neighborhood hardware store whenever I can. They’re multi-generational, too, and I hope their run can make your store’s run proud. Best of luck to all of you, and kudos to Janovic for giving you a soft landing that will let you continue to do what you do best.

    28. Peggy Salwen says:

      Thank you for all your help over these years. We wish you luck in your new places.
      Peggy & Peter Salwen

    29. Susan Kagan says:

      How beautiful to read of the caring loyalty to our neighborhood expressed by the Stark family!

    30. AC says:

      Bruce, you and your family have always treated us Upper West Siders well. I’ve been on 80th since 1967, and always remember my parents telling me as a young child, “go to Beacon.” And have always done since. This move just means that I’ll have to lug my paint an extra 6 blocks now. Well worth it! See you on 72nd Street and Let’s Go Mets!

    31. K says:

      Wonderful people (and dog). No business lasts forever, and most don’t last this long — glad we had it, and glad the owners and employees are staying in the neighborhood. Beacon’s is an institution and we will miss it. Thanks for the memories and service over the years we were lucky to have it.

    32. Jack glass says:

      A gut punch to the neighborhood. So very sorry to see this exemplary local business gone. What could possibly replace it?

    33. Bob Kaufman says:

      Deeply saddened that you needed to close. You have been one of the beacons that made the UWS great. You will be missed.

    34. Dan Trivino says:

      I had the pleasure of working at Beacon paints
      It would have been considerate to have been informed of your closing. I asked you on numerous occasions and you denied closing the store. It was selfish and not in your employees best interest. Why not give your men a heads up so they can procure employment elsewhere. Not a good look.

    35. Doug and West 77th St. Block Association says:

      So sorry to hear the news that a neighborhood institution is passing. Ever since we moved here in 1986, Beacon has been our “go to” place for all our needs, big or small. Your community support efforts, your Guiding Eyes Walk and your wonderful dogs will be missed greatly but we are glad to know that you, Steve and Ellen will still be nearby.

      All best wishes and we will see you soon.

    36. Liz says:

      I too gasped when I read this headline–tell me it ain’t so! I have been a customer for years. I am glad they are all to be employed at Janovic but where are we going to buy picture hooks, moth balls, or halogen bulbs! All the idiots who buy this stuff online, without understanding the value of local stores and local expertise, have caused this retail devastation.

    37. AL says:

      Oh no!! So sad to hear this – loved this store. Beacon Paint will be missed.

    38. Andrew A. says:

      I live across the street and have accessed the store for 42 years. Thank you for your help and best wishes are with you on upcoming projects. I’ve long enjoyed the nostalgia that besets me when receiving one of your quaint hand-written receipts!

    39. Sheila Wolk says:

      yes this is totally heartbreaking..our wonderful charm of mom and pop shops are being destroyed by the new age of technology and internet…the analysts warned America and the world of this soon happening 20 years ago where the wonderful internet would destroy real street stores..and so they have 🙁

      My heart breaks for the glorious NY charm I grew up in…it is fading away

    40. Stan says:

      Bruce,

      I’m sorry.

      Thought I’d we’d be customer of yours for ever.

      Best.

      Stan and Dale

    41. Vicky Bijur says:

      I was in the store on Saturday to buy lightbulbs. As always, everyone was so helpful. I had no idea that closing was imminent. This is a terrible loss for the neighborhood. Vicky

    42. B-ri on the Block says:

      The Bruscos have been wonderful to us, as residential tenants, for 15 years. Not surprised to hear of their generosity in this case.

    43. Kenneth Sherrill says:

      This is a tragedy for our neighborhood.

    44. Susan Z says:

      I’ve lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years and we really have lost the great places that have defined it. Others have said it, but it’s true, this is a gut punch. I didn’t have a lot of needs, but when I did this is where I went. Best to Bruce, Steven and Ellen

    45. Lisa says:

      So sorry to hear this news. It was always such a pleasure to spend time at Beacon, it was a lovely family-owned establishment, and everyone was very helpful. Oh, the times they are a changin. 😞

    46. david zelman says:

      Beacon Hardware was the kind of store one thinks of when we think of as Mom and Pop store. You have to be a senior to truly remember how it “used to be”.
      Bruce’ll be missed he was a true neighbor, not many left.
      I’ll tell you a true story. My friend Michael is divorced from his wife. She now lives with their son in Oregon and he’s still in New York. Every summer Mike Jr. would come and stay with his dad. Mike worked so Jr. had to be by himself sometimes so Mike said that if he got hungry he should go to the market on the corner and take whatever he wants and just show the man what you’re taking and he would take care of it when he got home. The summer’s over Jr. is back in Oregon and his mother calls Mike and tells him how excited Jr was when he came back, he told his friend’s New York is so GREAT nothing costs anything you just show what you’re taking and walk out! That’s how it used to be, and Beacon Hdw was a relic of that. Joseph’s Pharmacy comes close but still. Well Bruce and family I wish you the best, Oh, and everything was fresh.The change was quick, money talks. Best wishes to your and your family for health, and happiness, You’ll be missed.

    47. Naomi Sheiner says:

      I have lived on 79 Street for 47 years, and shopped at Beacon Paint and Hardware for 47 years. I always try them first, and often find what I want. I have enjoyed the dogs, personal treatment, and relaxed atmosphere. I will miss you.

    48. Art Slatkin says:

      About two years ago I bought a mini screwdriver set at Beacon for $16+. a few weeks later I saw it at Basics for $6.95. Quite a difference. I won’t miss Beacon for their uncompetitiveness.

    49. Steve G says:

      I lived on 79/Bway, and attended PS87 (the original and current) in 1954, followed by JHS 44.
      I remember Beacon Hardware clearly as part of the landscape…
      Sorry to hear the news.

    50. GirlPie says:

      Beautiful, mellow Bru lured me in that hot summer of ’06, and Bruce was patient with me in choosing a small A/C unit from Mom’s basement single. I carried it home and Mom, a true New Yorker at heart and since 1981, called it a game changer — surprised she’d never thought of such a thing…

      Loving a hardware store as much as a notices shot (R.I.P. Tender Buttons!), I came in to buy any little thing I could that summer… tape, caulk, bulbs. Then home to L.A., but every visit back to my beloved UWS included a stop in to Beacon until Bru passed.

      Thank you for sharing the lovely good-bye note with wonderful news that the siblings had such a helpful landlord and wise new employer. Even visitors like me were grateful for Beacon Hardware all these years.

    51. Tom D. says:

      Whilst we’re on the topic of old names going away… Mount Sinai decided to ditch the 150+ year old name of St. Luke’s hospital. It’s now Mount Sinai Morningside. Supposedly announced a week earlier, but I just noticed the banners while walking past on 2/18.

      Can’t say I’m surprised. Shortly after Mount Sinai took over St Luke’s-Roosevelt, they turned Roosevelt hospital into Mount Sinai West.

    52. Linda says:

      Thank you to the entire family for their wonderful store. I learned so much from walking in and haltingly explaining what I was trying to do and being led to the right section with advice. I daydreamed at your paint racks. A real neighborhood treasure. Everything changes—which stinks. Enjoy some well deserved rest. And best of luck on 72nd.

    53. t-bo says:

      What comes next at the site?

    54. perryo Rothenberg says:

      Good Luck

    55. Alan Laytner says:

      I too as a family owned and operated UWS business wish the Stark family the very best in all future endeavors and thank them for being a true local folk hero to our neighborhood.
      Good health and peace.
      Alan Laytner
      Laytner’s Linen

    56. Kenneth Epstein says:

      Sorry guys ..tougher every year ..good luck.. Kenny and Peter from Epsteins Paint

    57. Howard Katz says:

      Just learned about this news today — didn’t know that Beacon was there for 120 years, a great run, sad to see it end. Janovic is lucky to have you! Wishing the Stark family all the best.

    58. Michael Meister says:

      We will miss you guys!Thanks for all your service over the years!
      Michael from the Exhibition Department at The American Museum of Natural History

    59. Jean Rawn says:

      Bruce, I’m heartbroken. For so many years you and your family have been a bright spot, and SUCH good neighbors. I’m betting that you will discover that your customers follow you to Janovic — I know I will. The UWS that I loved is disappearing, and it saddens me deeply. Janovic is very lucky to get you folks. Good luck and God bless!