Some things just aren't meant to last forever.
While we have become accustomed to hearing about beloved independent retailers forced to close after exorbitant rent hikes or predatory competition, Broadway Panhandler will close its doors sometime this spring for a less painful reason: retirement. Store owner Norman Kornbleuth is 72 years old, and has simply reached the point where he is ready to wind the business down. Since his children are not interested in carrying on the business, and his attempts to sell the store have proved fruitless, Mr. Kornbleuth will shutter it when he decides the time has come. “We were never just about housewares,” he tells the Times' Florence Fabricant. “With my background, we could continue to sell equipment to restaurants.” Originally opened in SoHo about 40 years ago, Broadway Panhandler migrated from its namesake address in 1995 to Broome Street and then again up to East 8th Street in 2o6. Through the years, Kornbleuth developed a destination for chefs, celebrities and celebrity chefs alike thanks to the kind of personal service that is hard to replicate outside independent stores. Despite heavy competition from upscale chains like Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table and even discount laden Bed Bath & Beyond, the store thrived with most of the same top brands they carried plus more arcane fare and more exclusive suppliers. The store has been known as the first stop for obscure cooking items that are easily overlooked by bigger chains. Most notable was the extensive knife counter with a selection tough to match in the city. Culinary minded New Yorkers will still have independent stores like Whisk and Bowery Kitchen Supply in Chelsea Market to look to, but it will be tough for them to match the wide selection and depth of expertise that made Broadway Panhandler a mainstay.
Broadway Panhandler, Longtime Manhattan Cookware Retailer, to Close in Spring By Florence Fabricant (NYTimes)