PLEASE SUPPORT W42ST

W42ST runs on limited resources to keep Hell’s Kitchen connected, updated and upbeat. Access is totally free. Please consider supporting what we do so that we can continue our work!

Felix Atlasman, the owner of American Home Hardware and More, has become another Hell’s Kitchen small business owner shut down by the pandemic. He’s filed for bankruptcy and the hardware business that’s been on 9th Avenue for 66 years will close.

Felix Atlasman talked to us at the weekend about the imminent closure of his store. Video: Phil O’Brien

Atlasman placed a handwritten notice in the window of his neighborhood hardware store at the weekend, sending a message to his landlord. “Dear Alexander Brodsky. We thank you for the opportunity in helping us stay and support the neighborhood all these years. God bless you, your family and the Brodsky Organization. We wish you nothing but health, happiness and success in the future,” he signed off.

The business started as Straight Hardware across 9th Avenue in 1955. “It was started by a gentleman named Bob Straight. Bob ran the hardware store supplying the theatre industry and Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood at 613 9th Avenue. My dad bought it in 1989 and we relocated to 590 9th Ave and changed the name to American Home Hardware in 2006,” Altasman told us.

The handwritten poster from Felix Atlasman to Alexander Brodsky. Photo: Renee Lutz Stanley.

They moved to the Brodsky Organization building in 2006, beneath the property owner’s rental development on the block between W42nd and W43rd Streets. Atlasman estimates that in the 15 years of the lease with the Brodsky Organization they have paid $3.5 million in total rent.

The hardware store relied on 90% of its business coming from workers at Broadway theaters and conference attendees at the Javits Center. Both sources have been shut off for Atlasman for 18 months during the pandemic. In June last year, his business was seen as essential. In an interview with CBS he described how the area had become dangerous and how he kept his shutters down, bringing customers what they needed to the sidewalk. “Pepper spray is my best selling item. It used to be light bulbs,” Atlasman told the CBS reporter.

He has now made a voluntary petition for bankruptcy in New Jersey. “I told Alex, the landlord, it’s the pandemic! I’ve been open as an essential service, but where are the customers? Javits was a hospital. Broadway was closed. Be human. Give me a chance,” said Atlasman. “I’m in the wrong, he’s in the right. I’m sorry that I couldn’t pay him the rent.”

Felix Atlasman interviewed in March 2021 as the pandemic was forcing businesses to close. Video: Phil O’Brien

Atlasman, who has worked in the store for over 24 years, is resigned to losing his business and having to start again. “The store is going to get closed. It’s going to be liquidated. It’s just a matter of time, unfortunately. The neighborhood’s going to lose a hardware store, but you might get in a Starbucks,” he said laughing and pointing towards other coffee shop locations in the area.

He doesn’t know what’s next, but this Hell’s Kitchen character is ready for the next challenge. “I want to thank the 9th Avenue customers and my 9th Avenue family. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life. I want to stay, but unfortunately, COVID has got the better of us. So thank you, everybody — we all survived,” he said.

Locals have started to react to the news. “Another Hell’s Kitchen icon sliding into oblivion. Yes, they were pricey and idiosyncratic, but they had pretty much everything, and darn it, they were ours. They will be missed,” said Renee Lutz Stanley.

Last night, a spokesperson for the Brodsky Organization told us: “They have been a long-term tenant for many years at the site. We are sorry to see him go.”

Join the Conversation

8 Comments

  1. I hate to say it but I never liked that hardware store! (He’s a nice guy but his dad was a jerk.) And they are way overpriced. I never went in there if I didn’t have to…

  2. We will miss you Felix (& your dad). Thanks for not only your service but your sense of humor as well! I remember when I needed a small spray part for my WD 40 can & after telling me you didn’t have it, you ran after me to give me one you found for nothing!
    You’re the AtlasMAN! God bless you in all you & your family do.

  3. Sorry to hear this – there was something comforting about having this old school business, in all its sometimes dusty, wackily organized glory, a couple blocks from my apartment should I need tools or other items quickly and easily…and I’m sure my (and other local) supers felt similarly! Felix was also always a positive, friendly face, ready with a joke or a kind word. I hope he finds another location easily and look forward to patronizing wherever he winds up. I also hope we don’t get another coffee shop! It’s a giant space (comparatively) so the odds for a non-corporate entity are against us, but we can keep our fingers crossed…

  4. To Felix: I am going to say the same positive thing as some of the others but with my point of view. I watched your Dad’s hardware store on 9th Ave. become so crowded inside, HE had to find what I needed so I wouldn’t knock over everything looking. Then the little store moved to the “big” store across the street near 42nd Street… still on 9th. Avenue. “AMERICAN HOME HARDWARE” . I was impressed. I watched out my window as IT filled with merchandise. Now I was asking you at the front desk for what I needed. All these years there wasn’t anything YOU or your Dad couldn’t find somewhere in that store. The personal touch. Ah! Frankly it felt like my Dad’s old garage. It is fun to be greeted with your humor and “kibitz” for a few minutes. A store where you actually talked to the owner. I”ll miss looking across the street seeing interesting items in your windows. I’ll miss AHH as I have missed your Mom and Dad rambling around the store. Change happens but doesn’t always mean replacement. Losing another family business who gave the area character and part of themselves is sad. Like Alps Drug Store which AHH replaced. It had a personal touch with displays especially bought for their customers. Family stores make a neighborhood.
    “Mr. Brodsky come on. Your property has people living above American Home Hardware and More because, I assume, they want to be in a neighborhood where people care about their homes and fight for safety for all who live here’ If nothing but chain stores move in, our Hell’s Kitchen will just become an uninteresting place two blocks from Times Square and your place can’t find occupants.” Felix, keep your fingers crossed. I don’t want American Hardware to leave and be another place to miss.

  5. I once bought some cleaner at the hardware store and next went to Big Apple and found the same cleaner for twice the price. I promptly returned it and it was the second time I got burned at that hardware store and never went back. There were lots of complaints about it on NextDoor. I hate that anyone goes bankrupt but this was not a good store.

  6. Felix ran his place into the ground. It’s not surprising at all walking past a place that looked like a bomb went off in all year. Been sold either the wrong item or an overpriced item consistently over the years, eventually avoided the place altogether. It’s obv sad to see a small local biz go under but from all indication from the outside this was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *