On Saturday, September 12, Brothers Bruce and Steven Stark, the former owners of Beacon Paint & Hardware, will be sponsoring a street clean-up day. For anyone who wants to join in, it will begin at 10am on 81st and Columbus Avenue (you can also contact Bruce or Steven; their contact info is at the bottom).
Bruce and Steven’s new employer, Costello’s Ace Hardware, has graciously agreed to donate 400 garbage bags, 300 pairs of gloves and 24 grabbers.
Costello’s is a family-owned and operated chain, just as the old Beacon Paint & Hardware was, albeit much larger with 36 stores. It was founded in 1973 by Vincent Costello. Vinny had 6 children and wanted them all to have a store. They are well run, and it is truly a family affair with 12 family members working there. Much like Bruce and Steven, Costello’s cares about its communities and sponsors numerous charity events. They’re also major sponsors of the Miracle Children’s network, as well as Mondays at Racine, whose primary mission is to reduce the physical, emotional and cosmetic side effects of chemotherapy and radiation by providing complimentary in-salon beauty and wellness services.
At the height of the pandemic, Costello’s hired both Bruce and Steven to work on commercial sales out of their respective Upper West Side apartments. (Bruce lives on 76th Street and Steven on 84th Street, and both are longtime Upper West Siders).
The current condition of the neighborhood does not sit well with the Starks. While they don’t have a store front, they remain part of the community and looked for ways to help. Cleaning up and caring for the community has always been a priority, as it has been for many years.
Sadly, the brothers’ father, Mel Stark, died at the age of 93 on September 4. Mel was out every morning sweeping the sidewalk in front of the store. He loved telling the story about a man who came up to him and said, “You must be the boss,” to which Mel replied, “Why do you say that?” The man said, “Because you have a broom in your hands.”
The Starks have been part of the UWS since 1971, when Mel Stark bought the store from the original family (who were also West Siders going back to the early 1900’s).
The Starks always cared about the community and people. In 1976, the Dome Project was founded. It is an organization to help inner city youths obtain jobs. John Simon, the founder of the Dome Project, came to Mel Stark and asked him to hire a young man. He said the state would pay his salary, and after six months, that young man would be “done” with the project. Six months later, Mel insisted on keeping the young man, and said he would pay him. Over the years, the Starks employed 40 such men from the Dome Project. Byron C., who was the first one to come to work there, is still close with the family and has helped them out, right up until Beacon’s closing.
In 1973, the 77th Street Block Association wanted to paint over graffiti and the city was sponsoring a neighborhood cleanup project. A couple of member of the block association came to Beacon and were ready to pay for the paint and supplies needed, but Mel Stark would not accept any money for it. He was grateful they cared enough to spruce up the street. The street won 1st Place in a contest the city sponsored for the nicest street. Five years later, Beacon again donated the paint for the mural to be re-painted.
The Starks have always cared about the community, sponsoring numerous street cleanup days, donating paint and supplies to paint over graffiti on mail boxes as well as street lamps. They have worked with the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, The Computer School, the Dome Project, PS 87, and the police, offering nonviolent first time offenders an opportunity to complete their community service. They have also worked with the 20th Precinct and the Young Explorers Group.
If you don’t know, the old Beacon Paint also the recycled fluorescent bulbs at no cost to the customer for 10 years.
Beacon was probably best known for its annual walkathon, which they did for 20 years, first to benefit the Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society and then Guiding Eyes for the Blind for the last 10 years.
While the Stark Brothers no longer have their store, they are still part of the neighborhood, and they still care.
Costello’s Ace Hardware sells Benjamin Moore Paints, air conditioners and plenty of personal protective equipment, and is ready to help anyone or any company, school, building or museum that needs such items. Bruce & Steven will continue to offer the personal touch that made them the winners of numerous community service awards.
They also have plans to do more clean up days, as well as getting their bosses to donate paint and supplies to paint over any graffiti in the neighborhood
You can reach the Stark brothers at:
Bruce (347) 538-4050 Bstark@costellosace.com
Steven (347) 538-4020 SStark@costellosace.com
Beautiful story. Bruce and Steven are doing their community (and I am sure their father) proud. This is what community is all about.
Blessings to you both.