Health center will replace furniture store
A Melrose business that has furnished homes in the neighborhood, and beyond, for 55 years is shutting its doors.
The Kopstein family that has owned Brook House at the corner of Third and Brook avenues since 1959 will lease the 35,000 square foot building to Boom!Health, a Bronx-based health care agency. The new center will offer services for HIV patients, LGBTQ, women and adolescents as well as disease prevention counseling and advocacy.
In addition, the ground floor of the new center will become a 1,000 square foot café and performance space.
Excitement over closeout bargain prices in Brook House’s final days was offset by sadness as loyal customers descended on the six-story business to take advantage of deals and to say goodbye to old friends.
“My husband asked, ‘why are you crying?’ said Moffet Haywood, 50, who says Brook House has been her mainstay for home furnishings since she moved to Melrose in the 1990s. “You look around and you say, ‘I want this—-no, no, I want THIS.’”
“It’s quality. It’s just quality,” she said, adding she has shopped at furniture outlets in malls around the city, but those products pale in comparison. “I don’t think I want any more furniture.”
Customer Joyce Terry, 64, said she came from Mt. Vernon, to see about landing a deal on a new bed, pointing out that “the furniture I got here a long time ago still lasts.”
Brook House’s owners Ben Kopstein, 81, and his son, David, 46, say the move is not the result of dwindling business, but of their desire to keep in step with the needs of Melrose residents.
“A wellness center will better serve the people in this neighborhood,” said David Kopstein. “You don’t need so much space to sell furniture.”
On a late May weekday, Anthony Furtado, a former employee, worked the ground floor. He had come to volunteer to help his former employers, the Kopsteins, liquidate their inventory. Furtado, a Queens resident, said he met Ben Kopstein at a party in Queens in 1995, when he was 14. Kopstein offered him his first job soon after. He worked at Brook House for 17 years.
“They taught me the whole system,” said Furtado, “from cutting boxes to changing fixtures to doing delivery manifests.”
“Every floor has its own style,” he said while operating the relic freight elevator, stopping to proudly point out showrooms on each of the building’s six cavernous floors.
Several former employees have returned to volunteer their time during the protracted closeout period, Furtado said. “That’s called loyalty.”
Jose Davila, Boom!Health’s president and chief administrative officer said the new center will open on July 1. It will eventually employ about 100 and will consolidate the center’s two existing operations in Longwood and Fordham.
“It will be a focal point for a community that is really booming in Melrose,” Davila said.