The Store That Has Everything: Three Brothers Keep Father’s Thrift Shop Afloat

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The awning outside reads Electronics Center, but no descriptor could adequately sum up the store located at 1805 73rd Street.

Before you even step inside, racks of clothing, purses, and jewelry are strung up on hooks, and the sidewalk in front is littered with used furniture and housewares. There is an eye-catching, powder blue, vintage window fan, laying on the pavement beside a brown, mid-century modern-style upholstered foot stool.

Mind the necklaces on the door as you enter the thrift shop, and you will find a treasure trove that feels a lot like shopping in your grandmother’s basement.

“Anything that you are looking for, we have it, to be honest with you,” says 18-year-old Yousif, who inherited the consignment shop from his father Abdel, who died of lung cancer last August.

Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

After planting 40 years worth of roots in Bensonhurst, Abdel left his three sons with quite a legacy in the neighborhood.

“I think its been a year, and people still come in and say ‘hey I knew your dad,'” said Yousif.

Abdel left his home country of Palestine when he was 17 and spent a few years traveling in South America and Spain, before marrying and settling in Brooklyn in his 20s. Abdel his start selling electronics to various stores in Brooklyn out of his van, and finally opened his own shop on 18th Avenue on 65th Street.

Back then, he earned the bulk of his money installing VCRs in people’s homes for $1,100 per device, hence the business’ name. When the first store burned down, Abdel moved the store closer to 73rd Street, and eventually to the current location.

Photo courtesy of Yousif Said.

Abdel Said (Photo courtesy of Yousif Said)

When we stopped in last week, stacks of china lined one wall, towers of DVD players and VCRs flanked another, and a luxurious fur coat (worth $500, though Yousif will sell it to you for $30) consumed the small space like a grizzly bear.

Great deals can be found there, but be prepared to haggle, says Yousif.

“You start high and then you go low, because the customers are really cheap,” he said, describing his negotiation tactics.

Yousif told us he grew up helping his father in the store, dragging in merchandise that was displayed outside every evening, starting from age 13.

His favorite thing about working the store? “The people, they’re different, very different,” he said with a chuckle.

Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

Photo by Rachel SIlberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

Photo by Rachel SIlberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

A pair of scarface figurines. (Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean)

One customer scores a pair of scarface figurines. (Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean)

These days, Yousif takes turns manning the counter with his brothers Hussam, 36, and Sammy, 22.

The New Utrecht High School senior plans to attend College of Staten Island next year, perhaps to take nursing classes, but he says he is determined to hang onto the business.

“There are a lot of memories, and more people to meet,” said Yousif. “I’m going to keep [the store]forever, hopefully.”

  • Sean F

    I wasn’t familiar with this store, but I’ll have to check it out. I like places where you can find the unexpected.

    As a Thrift Store, I wonder if they buy as well as sell.

    • Black Adam

      Maybe you can buy the “Scarface” Al Pacino figures.
      If you find the “Michael from Godfather” figure…pick it up for me.
      Thanks.