Gift shop rises after Bayside January blaze

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More than two months after a devastating fire forced Bell Boulevard’s Top Drawer gift shop to close, the store reopened last Thursday with all-new spring merchandise and the smell of flowers in the air.

“Everything is fresh and clean,” said Karen Serin, who has owned the store that sells unique jewelry, pocketbooks and scented candles for 23 years.

Serin could only watch in horror Jan. 21 as her store was engulfed in smoke from an electrical basement fire that spread to the ground floor. No one was hurt in the blaze.

The building’s owner has maintained the fire was caused by overloaded Con Edison feeder cables in the basement, since the feeder box there was the shared electricity connection for the building and two adjacent properties from a manhole on the street.

“I’ll have nightmares about it for the rest of my life,” said Serin, whose business cost her “thousands and thousands” of dollars to reopen.

But it was the floral scent of Crabtree & Evelyn’s spring fragrances, not smoke, that lingered in the air on its reopening last Thursday. The antique-style lamps that hung from the ceiling had been washed, the store repainted, the shelves relined and a new carpet installed.

“All of our inventory has been replaced,” Serin said.

The products may have been new, but the charm was the same. The new spring lines included silk Vera Bradley purses in bright paisley and floral patterns, Brighton leather bags, fragrant potpourri and candles smelling of wisteria, vintage-looking picture frames and a wide selection of jewelry.

“A lot of people have been waiting for us to reopen,” said Serin, who reported a brisk business.

The only remaining evidence of fire damage was the charred wood where the Top Drawer sign used to be on the front of the building. A new sign in sage green was on its way, Serin said.

“You move on,” she said. “Thank God no one was hurt.”

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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