45 Years and Counting
BY CODY GERARD
Every week for the rest of the year, Our Town will celebrate our 45th anniversary by profiling a neighborhood business that has been around longer than we have. Know of a local business that should be on our list? Email us at email@example.com
On Madison Avenue, near 92nd Street, tucked into what is now a mostly residential neighborhood, is an Upper East Side fixture. Founded in 1929, at the start Great Depression, S. Feldman Housewares is a one-stop shop for pretty much anything you could need in your home, from hardware tools to pots and pans.
Sam Feldman, a Russian immigrant, started the business as five-and-dime and 25-cent store for people struggling during the economic collapse. More than 85 years later, the shop remains in the family, and is currently run by Sam Feldman’s grandson, Scott Goldsmith. Despite the neighborhood’s profound changes, as well as the economic turbulence and rising expenses rocking the city’s small businesses of late, the store has stood strong.
“It’s remarkably steady here,” Goldsmith said. “You don’t get rich in one day and you don’t go broke in one day. In 2008 things got worse here but we were still running profitably.”
Though S. Feldman remains successful, many nearby shops have been forced out, sometimes to oblivion, by rising real estate prices and skyrocketing rents. “Shopping-wise, a lot of businesses people used to depend on are all out of business,” Goldsmith, 58, said, adding that the last two stationary stores on Madison Avenue recently shuttered. Because of all the closures, Goldsmith said, “we try to have what anybody needs. If somebody asked for it before you, we probably have it.”
The key, he said, is simple: “We stand behind the merchandise.”
Goldsmith said that the future of S. Feldman lies in staying local. He wants to brand S. Feldman as a tourist attraction, a one-of-a-kind, only-in-New York small business. “We’re trying to get more business but it’s hard to get (tourists) to come up her without all the attractions,” he said.
Goldsmith said he’s never considered expanding. “I don’t want to get greedy, that’s when you go broke,” he said.
He hopes to keep the business in the family, and he might yet succeed: His youngest son, Jake, 22, is planning to start work in the store this summer.