Busy Bee Hardware, Eastern Market icon, closing
Busy Bee Hardware, an Eastern Market staple with colorful outer walls, put up a sign Tuesday that advertised something new for the 100-year-old store: Going Out Of Business.
The store, at the corner of Gratiot Avenue and Russell Street, will sell its inventory and close for good in July, said Richard Crabb, who owns the business with his sister Sandra Novak. In 1917, their grandfather bought an existing hardware store at the corner and renamed it Busy Bee. Their father eventually took over the business before passing it on to his son and daughter.
“It was kind of heart touching when I put up the (going out of business) sign,” Crabb said. “But it’s time. Let someone else appreciate and use this corner.”
He wouldn’t say who bought the property, which includes five adjacent buildings and a parking lot. Crabb said the sales price was “somewhere near” $2.6 million. The new owner plans to adapt the property for mixed use, which could include retail, office and residential, he said.
Crabb, 61, cited failing health and the changing nature of Eastern Market, the neighborhood anchored by one of the largest historic public market districts in the nation.
The sale comes at a time when Eastern Market is among the parts of “greater downtown” that’s seen an influx of new investments. Busy Bee increasingly finds itself surrounded by upscale restaurants, art galleries and residential.
Last year, the nonprofit that runs the marketplace unveiled a master plan that calls for expansion plans for the area and hopefully spark hundreds of millions of dollars in business growth over the next decade.