Fort Greene, BK Reader, pet store, Who's Your Doggy, Tracy Klonowski, Brooklyn small business, Brooklyn business, Brooklyn pets, Bedford Stuyvesant, G-Way Management, Cobblestone Management,
Photo credit: Myrtle Avenue Partnership

While waiting for almost six months for the landlord to begin repairs on the building, Who’s Your Doggy continued serving its loyal customers – until the owner called it quits in December

Photo credit: Myrtle Avenue Partnership

Who’s Your Doggy, Fort Greene’s neighborhood pet store, known and beloved for its ‘pup and people’ events, as well as its grooming and walking services, closed its doors for good on Sunday, January 14.

Well, not for good.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Every time it rained, it would pour all the way into our grooming room, causing more damage to our ceiling,” Klonowski described the issue. “The sheetrock of my ceiling got so wet, it eventually collapsed.”[/perfectpullquote]

Last June, a two-alarm fire erupted in the four-story building, located at 354 Myrtle Avenue, and created severe structural damages to the building which forced Tracy Klonowski, owner of Who’s Your Doggy, to vacate her store. The fire ravaged the entire building, burned its roof and rendered it unlivable, forcing the tenants to leave their homes.

Initially, Klonowski wanted to stick it out, stay in the neighborhood where she owned her pet store for more than 11 years– first at 197 Adelphi Street, then she relocated to Myrtle Avenue in December 2015. But every time it rained, it literally poured for her.

Every time it rained, it literally poured into the store’s grooming and retail room. Photo credit: Tracy Klonowski

“The fire burned the roof, but the landlord never replaced it. So every time it rained, it would pour all the way into our grooming room, causing more damage to our ceiling,” Klonowski described. “The sheetrock of my ceiling got so wet, it eventually collapsed.”

For almost six months, while waiting for the landlord to begin with the repairs, she and her team kept serving their customers. But G-Way/ Cobblestone Management, the company who manages the building for a private investment firm, never informed Klonowski about possible repairs or renovations, she claimed.

“Every time I called they told me that they were waiting for their insurance company,” she said. “There was nothing they can do until then.”

Thus, Klonowski didn’t think it would make sense to fix her store until the bigger issues of the house were repaired. Then, in November, black mold started to grow.

“The black mold was the last straw. Because of the black mold, which is very toxic, most of my staff quit in December,” Klonowski said. “And I can’t blame them.”

When in November mold started to appear, Klonowski decided to surrender. Photo credit: Tracy Klonowski

And she added: “Grooming is 50 percent of my business. But I often couldn’t use the space because of the rain, with water gushing into my grooming and retail room. I can’t subject my staff, clients or pets to that.”

So, in December, Klonowski, who owns a second Who’s Your Doggy in Bedford-Stuyvesant, decided to call it quits. She tried to relocate as many employees as possible to her location on Halsey Street, but she had to let go of her part-time employees. Then, she hired a lawyer to send a letter of surrender of the building to the landlord, with the hope she would be released from her lease.

When the neighbors heard of the closing, there were a lot of tears, said Klonowski.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”I am a single woman and I did that store on my own. I worked very hard for a long time in order to make the dream of opening my own business a reality.”[/perfectpullquote]

“It was hard. People came to the store crying,” she shared. “I have have been in the neighborhood for 11 years and I have a very loyal following. I am a single woman and I did that store on my own. I worked very hard for a long time in order to make the dream of opening my own business a reality.”

Klonoski doesn’t know what her next move will be. For now, she just wants the dust to settle, be released from her lease and continue serving her clients at her Bedford Stuyvesant location.

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  1. G-Way manages many sketchy buildings, including one on Carlton that also had a fire a few years ago. Tenants there also got screwed. They figure that there will always be someone stupid enough to move in without checking the history. I was one of the loyal customers of the store and warned them when they relocated from Adelphi about this bad landlord, who has had serial commercial tenants, tripled the rent on a popular pizza place at the corner and then left the store vacant for years. MARP, the Myrtle Avenue BID, does nothing to curb the property owners who don’t give a damn about the residents and leave vacant stores out of short-sighted pure greed. Small businesses need greater protection from this kind of unchecked landlord irresponsibility.

    1. Amen! G-Way / Cobblestone and everyone who works for them are the definition of slumlords. They care nothing for their tenants and are always out to make a buck at someone else’s expense. The fire at 354 Myrtle Ave may have been started by a carelessly discarded cigarette (per the FDNY Fire Marshall) but you know what caught fire? It was refuse and detritus that G-Way had allowed to accumulate on the egress to the rear fire escape. And it was the 2nd fire to happen in that building in recent years. Somehow G-Way/Cobblestone gets away with not maintaining the building, allowing fire hazards to exist and then collects insurance money when it goes up in flames. These guys are crooks, plain and simple.

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