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Pork store feels the pinch - A&S looks for new digs as Fifth Avenue rents skyrocket

Skyrocketing rents are causing a Park Slope staple to pack up and move on.

It was announced this week that the A&S Pork Store, located at 274 Fifth Avenue, may have sold its last sausage link at its longtime home.

Workers at the store, which has been serving Park Slope carnivores for the last 48 years, said that they’re looking to find a new location.

“We’re trying to move, but it’s not looking too good,” said one employee, who didn’t wish to give his name. “Everything is through the roof. No one wants to give mom-and-pop stores a chance anymore.”

The current manager of the family-run business was unavailable for comment at press time.

Longtime shoppers heard that the owner of the prime piece of real estate where A&S is housed opted not to renew the store’s lease, since the store couldn’t pay the increased rent.

Word of the store’s impending closure was spread by bloggers, who bemoaned the loss of Park Slope’s last butcher shop. The blogosphere also added some grist to the rumor mill.

“I spoke to the owners at A&S and it seems to be a family squabble gone awry,” said the scribe behind the blog “Adventures of a Gal.” “Now the daughter of the former owner (still all family) is jacking their rent up because she knows she can get more money for that space and doesn’t care that the family business won’t be able to afford it.”

“They have three months to find a new place and so far, can’t find anything in this area that they can afford,” she wrote.

But A&S’s dilemma is nothing new.

Commercial property owners seem to have no problem with increasing their rents in the tony community, leaving smaller businesses in the cold.

“We’ve got to do a better job of protecting our mom-and-pop stores, whether it’s on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope or on Court Street in Carroll Gardens,” said Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman. “They helped define our neighborhood character and they are part of the reason why people moved to our neighborhoods in the first place.”

“Starbucks is no substitute for the Tea Lounge and I don’t think anyone would argue that there isn’t room for both,” Hammerman added. “The problem is that they [chain stores] compete on an uneven playing field.”

Hammerman explained that large chains shrug off the high rents that mom-and-pop operations would struggle with. Landlords know that, but usually don’t care who they rent their property to.

“We’re dealing with a lot of national corporate chain store penetration and all that does is drive up the rent further, because they can lock in on high, long term leases,” said Hammerman, who is currently working with City Councilman David Yassky, who chairs the council’s small business committee, to find a model that would benefit mom and pop store owners.

“If the city can create special programs for minority and women owned business, they can create programs that would benefit locally owned businesses as well,” he said.

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