By Bill Parry
A popular thrift shop in Astoria, which raises money for the rehabilitation of drug addicts and alcoholics, is closing next month and currently selling its inventory of restored furniture, antiques and clothing for 50 percent off.
Nook n’ Crannie, at 29-18 Ditmars Blvd., has operated as the principal ministry of Betel America Church of Astoria. Many of the residents of the church’s rehab center have worked at the store in the last seven years, doing furniture restoration and deliveries.
Betel of America opted to sell its property on 4th Street and move the entire operation to the Southeast, most likely to North Carolina or Virginia.
“The board of directors couldn’t say no to the money that land developers have offered for the property,” Executive Director David Tepper said. “Large parts of the riverfront are being sold off to developers. We love the neighborhood — they’ve been good to us — but it gets to the point where it’s a no-brainer with all the cash involved, especially considering what we do.”
Betel International was founded in Spain in 1969 to fight the war against substance abuse, family violence and poverty. It now operates in 70 urban areas in 20 countries. In the early 1990s, Tepper’s father Elliott established Betel of America in Astoria.
The property on 4th Street housed the church and its headquarters as well as the residency that has administered up to 20 addicts and alcoholics at a time.
“Right now there are seven residents. We’ve known for nearly a year that we’d be headed south and have spent that time placing them in other programs,” David Tepper said.
He added that some may move south with the church, but they have the opportunity to transfer abroad to other Betel International centers.
Nook n’ Crannie opened on Ditmars Boulevard 12 years ago, the first of several stores in cities where Betel operates rehabilitation centers overseas. The store has been at its current location since 2007.
“There’s been a steady stream of customers ever since word of the closing spread last week,” Tepper said. “The people in this neighborhood have been wonderful since Day 1 and we’re truly going to miss them.”
The 50 percent off sale will continue until they close the doors for good.
“The lease is up at the end of March, but we might close in three weeks’ time,” Tepper said. “And we’re still doing free deliveries.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718)260-4538.