Boro Park Snapshot: Cohen’s Houseware
The general store of old lives on in a sweet corner of Boro
Sandwiched between the Super-13 supermarket and Sprinkles ice cream is Cohen’s Houseware, where you can just as easily pick up a belt as get a copper tubing or vacuum cleaner bag. And little wonder — the store has been around for so long, general stores were in vogue when it was first established.
Cohen’s was founded by Mr. Cohen, of course. Back in the 1940s, when trolleys traversed the neighborhood and a shtreimel was as common as a feathered hat is today. But it’s been in the Waldman family for nearly a half century already, owner Meir Simcha Waldman told boropark24.com’s Heshy Rubinstein in an interview.
Mr. Cohen, a Boro Park resident, opened the houseware store about 80 years ago and was originally located a block away. The elder Mr. Waldman, Reb Menachem Mendel, purchased it in the 1970s, and about two decades later moved it to its current location of 5212 13th Ave.
Ironically, while one son, Meir Simcha, today runs the houseware, another son purchased the original locale and operates Cohen’s Window Treatment there.
Both Reb Menachem Mendel z”l and ybl”c his wife are Holocaust survivors. They put all their energy into creating a shopping sensation so their customers can find what they need, all in one place. You can get keys anywhere. You can also get wiring, plumbing supplies or nails anywhere. What makes Cohen’s unique is that they have it all.
“It has a little bit of everything,” Mr. Waldman said. “We’re like a convenience store for the do-it-yourselfers.”
Mr. Waldman began his training early on. As a young boy learning in yeshiva, he would come into the store and help out during bein hazmanim, serving customers and manning the register.
He takes pride in the fact that his store has a keilim mikva. It was built by Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel Bick years ago and is today regularly inspected by Rav Bick’s son.
Cohen’s Houseware may have a little bit of everything but it sure has a load of history for old time Boro Parkers. Mr. Waldman recalled an old customer driving in from Pennsylvania to visit the store where he bought his wedding trousseau.
“He came here just to see the neighborhood again and asked to see the store,” Mr. Waldman recalled. “So people told him that it moved a block and he came in here.”
That anecdote tells a lot about how the store was established by the man who gave it its name. Today, the name may have changed but the boss still holds to the same credo — the customer is always right.
“We’re here for the customer,” Mr. Waldman said simply. “We try our best.”
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