Village Awardee: M & D Shapiro True Value Hardware, 7 Great Jones Street
Each year, Village Preservation honors the invaluable people, businesses, and organizations that make a special contribution to our neighborhoods at our Annual Meeting and Village Awards. This year, on June 17th, 2020 we will be celebrating nine outstanding awardees — RSVP here to participate virtually.
M&D Shapiro Hardware is the quintessential New York small business story of hard-working immigrant business owners sustaining their communities. As owner Moe Ben says: everyone needs hardware, and when something is broken you have to fix it. Shapiro Hardware was established in 1935 and has been mostly passed down to former employees who then became owners. While the “M” in M & D Shapiro Hardware did not originally stand for Moe, who runs the business with his sister Fatima (both originally from Morrocco), these two and their staff have carried on M&D’s successful small business tradition, and for this, we are thrilled to be recognizing them with a 2020 Village Award.
Locations and Movements
Few businesses survive decades. Fewer still survive multiple moves. Rare is the one that survives both. But M & D Shapiro Hardware, since its founding in 1935, has moved from the Bowery to Bleecker Street, and now can be found at 7 Great Jones Street. A total building renovation of their Bleecker and Lafayette location necessitated a move, but they were encouraged by many loyal customers to stay in the neighborhood. Shapiro Hardware remained open at Bleecker Street for a few months and publicized the move to Great Jones to their customers, which helped in a successful transfer.
The store has emerged successfully through decades of change and several changes in location. The Bowery back in the day had a very different charm than it does today. There was a lot of foot traffic on Bleecker Street with people coming in and browsing or asking lots of questions. Like many businesses and people, the store took a hit after the 2008 financial crisis. Other challenges included extensive sidewalk and subway work outside the former Bleecker Street location. But they survived. Moe attributes their success to two things: dedication, and a love for what they do. “If you do not love what you do, you will not stay in business for long,” he says. The business is also a family affair; his sister might pick up the phone when you call.
The NoHo Community
Moe speaks about the neighborhood like home, as he sees the same people all the time coming and going. Talking about the reputation NoHo enjoys as home to creative types and free spirits, Moe talks about the sustained, deep creative feeling as part of what makes NoHo so special.
Many families shop there regularly, and for your four-legged friends, they have dog treats. Mo, Fatima, and their staff have watched babies grow up and now come to the store on their own. In the daytime, the store mostly serves local contractors working in nearby buildings and stores. More local residents appear in the evenings after work, or on the weekends. Residents come for cleaning supplies or paint; Moe and his staff will mix up any color for you on the spot. Key cutting is also a big part of the business. They have a small car section too, with oil, antifreeze and the basics for taxi drivers and locals alike.
The Current Moment
Now they are confronted with COVID-19. Our Awards Committee member spoke to Fatima about it. They are surviving by using all the tools – pun intended – at their disposal. They know the neighborhood and customers by name. Like in ordinary times, they offer personal service, accommodating specific needs. They re-arranged the store, and now serve their community from the entrance. She said circumstances have changed what they offer as well — that personal element is just as important as the supplies. Given the hardships and fears of their community, Fatima and Moe find that people are coming to them because it is friendly and familiar. They don’t come for hardware, but for a sympathetic ear and support. Fatima offers the comfort and solace that an empathetic small business person can. Still, they’re doing a fraction of their usual business.
Conducting business with kindness, empathy, and quality is not easy, and we know that Moe and Fatima are making their community and the city so much better for that effort. We hope that everyone local will consider M&D when they have hardware needs, to join together and keep their business alive.