End of the Road for the ‘BJ Dollar Store’ on Pike Street
The popular local dollar store, New BJ 99-Cents, has been holding down Pike Street for some three decades. And for that long, the butt of many a fellatio joke, attracting cameras and giggles. But this is no laughing matter.
This retail cornerstone of the Chinatown/Lower East Side community – located below the Sung Tak Buddhist temple at 15 Pike Street – is set to close at the end of the month. We’re told that half their inventory is now gone, and much of the place is already packed up.
No word yet on the cause behind the closure.
The building itself carries plenty of history, though. First brought to life as Congregation Sons of Israel Kalwarie in 1903, it’s one of the oldest surviving synagogue structures on the Lower East Side. Designed by Alfred E. Badt, the house of worship replaced the former tenement onsite that served as synagogue for this tiny Polish congregation dating back to 1853. The three-story structure is of the Romanesque style and features smooth limestone facade.
The synagogue remained active onsite until its demise in the mid-1980s. The building stood vacant for several years, but was rehabilitated for mixed-use – Buddhist temple on the main level, apartments above, and commercial space where the dollar store opened sometime after 1988.
Congregation Kalwarie sold the building in January 1994 to its current owner, according to public records. It received landmark designation three years later.