A unique store is hard to find. I don’t mean, like, a place that sells artisinal mayonnaise, but an idiosyncratic space with history, longevity and healthy dose of quirk. On the southside of Third Avenue, you’ll find just such a place: Ridge Paint & Hardware (9108 Third Avenue), or at least you would have: the store will close at the end of the month after it liquidates its stock. For the 66 years it lasted, it was decidedly distinct; instead of browsing the aisles, you would tell someone who worked there what you needed, and he would disappear for a few minutes and bring back three different versions of exactly what you want. The store didn’t always have what you were looking for, but it was always an experience to stop in; it was hard to resist.
Its windows and exterior are decorated by vintage painted-signage boasting, “THE STORE WITH A MILLION ITEMS,” and I believe it: padlocks, American flags, even Don’t Tread on Me flags. It appears a product of its time and also a product of incredible longevity.
It opened in 1938, meeting a need deep into the neighborhood. Current owner Seymour Shepetin’s father passed it to “Sy” in 1948, and he has run it ever since. Sy, now 89, ran the store with his high school buddy Dominick “Chubby” Chirico, who died last May. After injuring his wrist, Shepetin has decided to retire. The store will be open weekends for the remainder of July; everything, according to a cardboard sign sitting out front, is 50 percent off. Stop by and marvel at the curiously overstuffed space and bid it farewell—maybe you’ll find a deal in the process, literally one of the million.