BED-STUY, BROOKLYN — After over 100 years, Macon Hardware, one of Bed-Stuy’s oldest Black-owned businesses, will close its doors for good.
“It’s a sad thing, it breaks my heart that I had to do this,” Hayes told Brownstoner. “I mean we’ve been here forever. I don’t even know, people are looking at me like ‘are you really gonna do that?'”
Hayes, who has worked at Macon Hardware since he was 12 for previous owner Samuel Pelner, a Polish immigrant who his late father, Peter, had worked for and been a bit of a mentee, Brownstoner reports.
Pelner eventually helped the Hayes family buy a home on MacDonough Street during a time when it was exceedingly difficult for a Black family to buy property, according to Brownstoner, and eventually sold the business — and the building — to Clara, who ran it until her death last year at 93.
“I don’t want to retire — why you say that?” she told website Black-Owned Brooklyn back in 2018. “I enjoy seeing people in the neighborhood. How can you walk away from something you’ve been with for the past 60, 70 years? It’s not that easy.”
The store remained a fixture for neighbors—not just for its wares, but for its ears and the wisdom between them.
“As I got older, what I got there was just an ear to listen,” Janell Smith, whose grandmother was good friend with Clara, told Patch last year. “You came in there to buy things, but you really came in there for the experience — to see Ms. Hayes.”
“The store has always been part of my life,” Hayes recounted to Brownstoner. “All I ever knew was the store: My dad would pick me up from school, pick me up at lunchtime and bring me here, and I would eat lunch with my dad and then he would take me back to school. We did that for a couple of years and then he started me at private school…near Pratt Institute.”
10 years ago, Carla needed assistance running the store, leaving Hayes to move from Atlanta, where he worked as a flight attendant, back to Brooklyn to help, he told Brownstoner.
Hayes put the building up for sale last week.
“Sometimes you just have to make decisions and you just don’t know if they’re right or they’re wrong,” he said to Brownstoner.
Read the whole story on Macon Hardware at Brownstoner.com