Monday, July 27, 2009

The Cabinet Shop

The Cabinet Shop on 7th Avenue in Park Slope has closed.



People stop by the window to look in at the empty store and exclaim, "Oh! I was just about to buy new cabinets!"

They take a few moments to read what might be the bitterest farewell note ever posted by a shuttered mom-and-pop. And that's a compliment. They excelled at bitter signage--like the "No Cell Phones" sign that I loved (not everyone loved it--see this rant/parody from FIPS).

Here, they stick it to all the window pickers who never bought, and to Ikea--without naming names--we know who they mean when they say "inferior quality, cookie cutter mold made objects" that waste money and crowd landfills.

It's a must-read--click to enlarge:



Now, if you're shamed and still looking for durable, handcrafted items, their workshop at 712 5th Ave, between 22nd and 23rd, is still in operation.

21 comments:

JackS said...

Wow. They used to have a Carroll Gardens shop I bought a bookcase and small wooden desk from. Excellent stuff that is really well made. That location closed down. Then I bought another small bookcase from this 7th Avenue location. Now that's gone.

It would all be bitter if it wouldn't be for one thing: They really make high quality/durable stuff.

BaHa said...

I understand the point they are making, but one aspect of the situation is omitted in your discussion: Lots of us can't afford a home filled with hand-crafted pieces. Doesn't make us bad, business-killing people.

esquared said...

I wouldn't be surprised if a Magnolia Bakery will take over that place. SJP, after all, will be moving to Park Slope.

13 Journal said...

First of all, if they still have a "workshop" on, um, Fifth Avenue I am going to have a hard time feeling a tremendous amount of pity for them. Secondly, on the employment issue that they raise, I am sure IKEA or whoever employs plenty of local people, way more than this shop ever did, with decent wages and benefits. Finally, certain stores, if they close, yes, a part of New York dies. But these are places where people have developed memories over time: a favorite cafe, a little bookstore that always had that obscure title you were looking for, an ice cream parlor you remember from childhood. But a cabinet shop in Brooklyn? I don't know if I can really get Proustian over that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

"Handcrafted durable wooden cabinets" is exactly the kind of stuff upper middle class and rich white people buy and support. You know, the ones that according to this blog, are ruining NY with their consumerist yunnieness. Meanwhile, IKEA serves people who don't have $20,000 to spend on some furniture. Like, the poor people who make this city great and gritty and dangerous and what not. BUT, clearly, handcrafted durable wooden cabinets SOUNDS like the kind of thing that anti-yunnie crusaders SHOULD support. AHHHH OVERLOAD, ALERT, ALERT COMPUTER MALFUNCTION - it would be fun to start a parody blog to all this, if there wasn't already one, called Stuff White People Like.

Notebook Stories said...

This store didn't sell high end stuff for rich people-- it was inexpensive unfinished birch shelving, just a bit nicer than what you'd find at Gothic Cabinet Craft. They also did custom work-- I bought two large bookcases from them made to my measurements, for a total of under $800 including delivery-- more than Ikea but not all that much more for a customized, very good quality product-- the shelves are stuffed with heavy books and haven't sagged at all after almost 10 years.
I'm sorry to see them go.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry the Cabinet Shop man is closing his shop -- he's clearly very upset about it, and I care about the city's individual business owners, whom I try to support. That said, this guy sounds like a serious pill.

How many "window pickers who never bought" could there even have been over the years? Cabinetry and furniture is generally not an impulse purchase. Nor is it a repeat business for the most part, because people keep furniture for decades. Also many people live in rentals, which tend to come with existing cabinets.

I don't own a stick of IKEA yet I would never have purchased from the Cabinet Shop either, only because my furniture is all inherited/hand me downs. Again I am sorry the man had to close his shop but I really don't think it justifies bitching rather aimlessly at passersby. The IKEA-ization of people's homes is not new and I'd imagine that custom cabinetry is not exactly a bustling business even in flush economic times. Maybe he needed to change up his product a little.

He's got my 100% support on the cell-phone use though.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with the IKEA-zation of people's homes? You can get nice looking things that you would never have been able to afford before. I get food snobbery, because at least there is an unnatural basis supporting cheap fast food (corn subsidies) but resenting the fact that people can by an entertainment center for $300 just seems icky. Nobody is forcing you to buy IKEA, but overall it is net improvement to many people's lives.

Jeremiah Moss said...

the economics part of all this is tough. it's hard to say no to Ikea when their prices are so low. of course, what you get does fall apart within a year or two.

Anonymous said...

1:44, you make a good point. And even if one doesn't care for the aesthetics of IKEA furniture, think of the convenience of flat-packed furniture, designed to the smaller scale of most apartments, that can be assembled at home. We are a city of walk-ups, awkward staircases, narrow doorways.

I would have had to ditch my sleigh bed, built in 1870, years ago if it 1) wasn't smaller than twin size and 2) hadn't been made to break down into four basic pieces. I might very well be sleeping on a IKEA futon since I could be reasonably sure it would fit up my narrow tenanment stairs and through the apartment door, and it wouldn't mean I was a custom-cabinet-hating jerk.

I am sad that custom cabinetry may be a dying art, but the Cabinet Shop could have tried to adapt to modern tastes and conveniences. He's still got his 5th Ave. studio.

Anonymous said...

I'm no IKEA shill, but the "falls apart in a year or two" thing is just overly simplistic. Yes, some of the particle board stuff warps, esp. if exposed to lots of moisture (bathroom stuff often looks not so great after 2-3 years) but plenty of IKEA stuff looks just fine after 10-15 years. No, it won't hold up like this dude's sleigh bed from 1870, but let's face it, 99.9999999% of stuff built in 1870 isn't around either, so that's not really fair. As long as they aren't using sweatshop labor, I just don't see how IKEA and all it represents is on the whole, something to resent. After all, this goes inside people's houses - nobody is forcing anyone to buy it, or look at it.

Anonymous said...

Oh and by the way, I don't think that custom cabinetry is at all a dying art. Rich people will always want durable, custom made furniture that looks and feels "expensive." I think the major reduction to this market has happened a while ago, and now its fortunes will rise and fall with the rest of the economy, as people at the higher socioeconomic levels regain their disposable income.

Anonymous said...

2:29, it's Sleigh Bed here. 1) I'm not a dude and more important 2) I was defending IKEA purchases, not saying that turn-of-the-century furniture is superior. (Well, actually, it IS, but it's also heavy, unwieldy, and expensive.) The convenience of IKEA products really can't be overstated for urban dwellers.

Maybe if Cabinet Shop guy had started selling disassembling, flat-packing cabinets, he wouldn't be so bitter today.

Jeremiah Moss said...

here's another thing to add to the list of Stuff White People like: the website "Stuff White People Like."

13 Journal said...

If would be fun to start a parody blog of "Stuff White People Like," if there wasn't already one, called "Stuff White People Like." In ridiculing things that white people like, the blog author employs two conventions that white people especially covet: sarcasm and lists. (White people's favorite music channel, VH1, expends hours and hours of airtime on both.) And, having glanced at the site, I found something else that white people especially like: book deals based on their crappy miopic blogs.

JackS said...

The anonymous trolls are hilarious! The name of the shop is "The Cabinet Shop" and what made them unique was they did custom work, but unlike other makers they also had great premade stuff THAT IS AFFORDABLE.

They catered to the whole neighborhood and were incredibly helpful in many regards.

IKEA is cheap and their stuff is disposable. So hopefully a few of the "urban living" types who like "flat packed" stuff will toss their IKEA stuff to the curb when they invariably move out of NYC.

BaHa said...

Your affordable, JackS, is not mine. I'm sure they did lovely work but, nonetheless, not within my writer's budget. Yes, I went with Ikea, six tall bookcases for four hundred dollars. I support old-school stores when I can, but I can't afford custom furniture anymore than I can afford custom jewelry.
As far as tossing my Ikea stuff to the curb when I leave NYC, I'm a fifth generation New Yorker. Not leaving, not rich. And your name, read aloud, suits you very well. Jackass indeed.

Jeremiah Moss said...

alright, now break it up. baha, jack, you're on the same side. really!

BaHa said...

Quite right, Jeremih. My only excuse is I spent the evening unsuccessfully trying to put together a fan. Apologies.

Jeremiah Moss said...

...was it an ikea fan? ;)

BaHa said...

Made specially in China for Duane Read!