BY VIRGINIA RANDALL
For nearly a quarter of a century, Alan Reisner has advised young renters on the kind of hooks they need to hang their pictures, diagnosed mysterious sounds emanating from radiators and crafted sets of keys for new roommates.
Reisner, the proprietor of ATB Locksmith and Hardware on York Avenue, near 85th Street, has presided over the 800-square-feet store, which is near stuffed to the ceiling with bins and racks holding every imaginable hardware item from tiny screws to plumbing tools. Reisman, though, has memorized it all, pulling the correct item out from the organized chaos with ease.
After so many years ensconced in its compact nook, ATB is moving. But if Reisner has his say, he and his store will remain in Yorkville.
“I didn’t pick Yorkville, Yorkville picked me,” Reisner, 60, said. “I wanted to be my own boss, and I looked in the paper for opportunities to take over a business and there it was.”
Taking over the hardware store on York Avenue was a bit of a return to roots for Reisner, who before taking over the shop had spent years on the account end at a major ad agency.
“My dad was a landlord and I would go with him when he would fix up the apartments,” he said. “I must have learned by osmosis.”
Unlike other local businesses, most recently two Gristedes supermarkets, the culprit isn’t a change in building ownership or a rent increase. Reisner noted that although his rent has just about doubled during his tenure, his landlord and property managers also lowered his rent when the economy took a dive in 2008.
“It’s the real estate tax, it keeps going up,” he commented, “My share is about $1,000 a month.”
For now, it’s business as usual at the York Avenue store, since he’s on a month-to-month arrangement with his landlord while he looks for another location nearby so he can continue to service his regulars — or the occasional call from the police.
“Since I’m a locksmith, I get asked by social services or other groups to break into apartments to help people who need help,” he said.
Sometimes the tenant is beyond help. “When tenants say they haven’t seen a neighbor for a while and notice a bad smell from the apartment, the manager will call the cops and contact me to break into the apartment. Once I was the first one in the apartment. A big heavy naked guy on the bed, all purple. It was something. Or an elderly lady in her apartment. The landlord couldn’t find the key and had to climb in the fire escape. That’s life in the big city,” he said philosophically.
Thankfully most of Reisner’s days are spent on more mundane tasks, including on-site house calls and repairs that will continue no matter where he lands next. “I install ceiling lights 20 feet up for people who can’t climb ladders, rewire lamps, install or replace locks, change out light fixtures, switch plates, outlets, dimmers. I do plumbing, too, but I’m getting kind of old for climbing under cabinets.”
His mission seems tied to the store name. When he took over, he asked the previous owner what ATB stood for. “He must have had visions of grandeur. He told me it stood for ‘All The Boroughs,’ but I decided that it really means ‘All The Best.’