Text and photos by Stacie Joy
During my recent visit to sister shops Brix Wine and Barnyard Cheese, several neighbors dropped by to tell owner Beatriz Gutierrez how pleased they were that the longtime businesses were still up and running to serve the East Village.
In February, Barnyard temporarily closed on Avenue B between 10th Street and 11th Street with a rather cryptic note for patrons. However, the shop reopened in April — at the same time, Brix moved one storefront to the north, leaving a vacant space between the two businesses.
Gutierrez told me more about the temporary closure, plans for the storefront that now separates Barnyard and Brix, and her deep appreciation for her customers.
There’s been a lot of change in your shops recently. Can you explain what happened with the temporary closure, the moving of locations, and what you plan to do with the new space in the middle?
Barnyard's temporary closure allowed us to rethink the layout in anticipation of the city and state's capacity guidelines. We desperately needed to have people come into the store since most of what we offer is visual — the cheeses, jams, fresh bread, house-made prepacked foods, etc. We were able to do that, and it seems to be working.
As for Brix, the closure of Barnyard gave us the time to move the wine shop to the space next door, which is bigger and provided space to carry and store more inventory. It was a blessing in disguise.
The middle space — still in the conception stage — will be an extension of both Brix and Barnyard. A sort of Adult Learning Center, if you will, where we plan to have tastings, culinary classes, advanced and specialized wine seminars, cheese school, and private gatherings.
How do you see the local economy shaping up as we continue to move into a recovery phase from the pandemic?
I see a better tomorrow for everyone. Although we are still recovering from more than a year of hardship caused by the pandemic, we managed to survive, and since reopening, the East Village has come back to support us and a collective sigh of relief has been breathed by everyone.
The support, gratitude, and well wishes have been overwhelming and so appreciated. We are grateful to everyone who came back through our doors.
As a small-business owner, what were some of the lessons learned from the pandemic?
So many things have been learned, but I’d say the top three are: Never give up. You have a purpose. Loyalty is everything.
I'd have to say that they are the most supportive and wonderful customers a small business could hope for. We are able to exist because of them. We strive to create a place that provides something useful, serves it with pride and a good attitude, and make a visit something they can count on in the future.
I really believe our customers get that at Brix and Barnyard. They have come back and continue to do so. I can't thank our neighbors enough for sticking by us.
What's next for the shops?
What's next is the middle store. It has to be something that enhances the neighborhood and fills a void. What do we need? Stay tuned.
Barnyard Cheese is at 168 Avenue B and Brix Wines is at 170 Avenue B.
Monday — Saturday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday — Thursday: Noon to 8 p.m; until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday