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Business of the Week: Sport Prospect, 362 Seventh Avenue

This article originally appeared on Patch.

Walking around this city, it's nearly impossible not to come across someone wearing a shirt that says "Brooklyn" on it, in some way, shape, or form. They're ubiquitous, sold everywhere from sidewalk tables to high-end boutiques. But do you know where the trend started? Right here in Park Slope, at Sport Prospect, on Seventh between Tenth and Eleventh Streets. 

Owner Carl Manco grew up in Park Slope, and ran the baseball and basketball programs at St. Saviour's before working for Paragon Sporting Goods on Broadway for 13 years. Then, in 1988, he had an epiphany. 

"Every town has a little store where you can buy a tee shirt with the name of the town on it. I realized that Brooklyn had nothing like that, and it was starting to become trendy," he said. "I saw some changes coming to my neighborhood, so I came back here and opened the shop up."

Shirts in all colors and sizes are sold here, but the main theme is always Brooklyn, and Park Slope in particular. "We develop all our own logos, and there's really something for everybody," Manco told me. We control all the inventory, and design and print everything ourselves."

Designs range from the straightforward to outlandish, with one of the more popular sellers depicting King Kong on the Brooklyn Bridge. "We keep it simple here," said Manco. "We know people aren't really into rhinestones these days."

He runs the shop with his brother Anthony, and they keep their store immaculately clean. Without a website, Manco isn't certain how so many people know about his store. 

"We don't advertise, we have no online store, but tourists from all over the world come here to shop for tee shirts," he said. "I have no idea how they find us! We once sold a Dodgers hat to the Dalai Lama! I'll be up in the Hamptons and I'll see someone wearing my shirt! It's a great feeling."

A large portion of their business comes from local sport teams, who have their uniforms printed up by the shop. He's good friends with the landlord (Manco was once his little league coach), so the rent has remained low enough that Manco hasn't had to raise prices in years. "All our tee shirts are ten bucks. Cotton's gone up in price recently, but I'll die before I raise my prices."

He also sells some sporting goods like baseball bats and gloves, but the bulk of the business comes from those looking for a Brooklyn-branded tee shirt, including young mothers dressing up their babies. 

For Manco, and his loyal customers, these are more than just tee shirts. 

"I see guys walking around with 'Aeropostale' in big letters on their shirt. Why be a walking billboard for Aeropostale when you could be a walking billboard for Brooklyn?"

Sport Prospect, 372 Seventh Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-768-1328.


The Park Slope Week in Review: 5/2/11 - 5/6/11

Happy May, my friends! On Monday I reported that Ha Noi, the neighborhood's first full-on Vietnamese restaurant, had opened its doors over the weekend. It's got a huge menu, and so far it seems promising. Old man bar Jackie's Fifth Amendment also re-opened to the public after being closed for a couple weeks post-DOH inspection.

On Tuesday I staked my claim that the month of April 2011 was the best month for foodies in the history of the neighborhood. Just look at that list of new dining options! (And seriously, if you haven't had Culture's key lime pie yogurt yet, get over there immediately.) We're also getting an outpost of SoHo's famed Bicycle Habitat on Fifth between Tenth and Eleventh. Also, HMBRGR.

Wednesday brought word that another one of those shady "Body and Foot Rub" parlors had opened; this one's on Fifth between Lincoln and Berkeley. If anyone figures out what the deal with these is, please let me know. Los Pollitos II also got awarded "The City's Best Margarita" by the Daily News. Way to go!

On Thursday I got the scoop on Sweet Wolf's, the restaurant heading to the corner of Sixth Avenue and 12th Street. Burgers, wood oven meat, and duck fat Belgian fries? Yes, please! I also snapped a photo of Bierkraft's backyard, which has been opened up to the public and looks like a great place to chill.

On Friday I was able to get my hands on a menu for Dumplings and Things, the new Chinatown-style dumpling shop headed to the old Taqueria Reis space, on Fifth between Fifth and Sixth, and it's certainly worth getting excited about. They also installed some signage this week. I also snuck a peek behind the sidewalk shed at the Red Monster at 137 Fifth, and brought word that Compucell on Seventh had shuttered.


Closed for Business: Compucell, 211 Seventh Avenue

The nondescript little store called Compucell, on Seventh Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets, closed for good recently. It was primarily a Verizon retailer, from what I could gather. It won't necessarily be missed, but nobody wants to see another empty storefront.


A Peek Behind the 137 Fifth Avenue Sidewalk Shed

Fifth Avenue's newest eyesore, on the corner of St. John's Place, lost its scaffolding a couple months ago and appears to be nearly ready to start moving tenants in. The ground floor retail space, however, still has a ways to go. Here's a peek behind the sidewalk shed:

Looks like it'll be a glass wall facade, and with a rent of $12,000/month, only high-end retailers will have the opportunity to move in.


Friday Foodporn: Ha Noi Vietnamese Kitchen

I had a chance to get some lunch earlier this week at the new Ha Noi Vietnamese Kitchen, on Ninth Street just east of Seventh Avenue, and it was certainly impressive. The food is fresh and expertly prepared, with a strong dose of authenticity. While I agree with a couple commenters that there could be more fresh herbs, it's not a big distraction (I saw another table ask for some extra basil, and a bunch was delivered to their table). 

Salt and Pepper Shrimp is a classic Vietnamese dish, meant to be eaten shell and all. I'd never had a shrimp in its shell before, but it was apparently prepared properly so it had a nice crunch. It was served with a heaping pile of rice, and as part of the lunch special it was only $6.50.

The Green Mussel appetizer ($5.50) was a well-composed plate of five of the biggest mussels I've ever seen, topped with a black bean sauce, green peppers, and scallions. If you like mussels, order these. I could have eaten 20 of them.

There's still a lot on the menu to unpack (pho, noodle dishes, banh mi, green papaya salad, and chicken curry are just a few I'd like to try), but based on the growing fan base (and the imminent arrival of delivery service), I have a feeling this restaurant is going to be around for a while. You can find the whole menu here.

Ha Noi Vietnamese Kitchen, 448 Ninth Street Brooklyn NY 11215. Phone: 718-788-7755.