In 1951, two brothers opened a retail store along the Culver-Narrows rail line on McDonald Avenue in Brooklyn and aptly named their place of business the "Culver - Narrows Beer Distributor".
In those days, Schaefer and Rheingold were the most popular beers whose breweries were located near The Brooklyn Navy Yard. Beer was not the only beverage sold , you could also purchase seltzers by the case in thick glassed bottles that featured a "spritz" top for serving this bubbly beverage as opposed to the "twist" tops used today. Who could forget Hammer Soda, that was also sold here, with their tasty varieties of Cream, Root-Beer, Ginger Ale, and Black Cherry, also coming in those thick glass bottles. There were also chocolate and vanilla syrups, as well as Coca-Cola syrup, for those wishing to make soda at home, do you remember Egg Creams?
Soon, the neighborhood was buying most of its beverages from Culver-Narrows. You could cash and carry, or, get your purchase delivered ,thus getting the nick name of a "Home-D". Everyone having a party,barbecue, or wedding could satisfy their beverage needs at Culver-Narrows. Kegs of Beer with taps to serve were not uncommon! Not only did these brothers provide a service , they provided a place of employment for local residents full-time, as well as summer employment for teens attending school. Over the years, hundreds could boast of working at "the beer distributor"!
The brothers worked hard at the business over the years and when their children were old enough, were brought in to help out after school and during the summer. Eventually, in 1986, one of the sons became sole proprietor of the establishment. Prior to this, the brothers joined in a collective advertising and purchasing enterprise of over 50 independent stores known as "Thrifty Beverage Centers" , who would run adds in local newspapers featuring sales of the week on many different brands of beer and soda sold at these stores. Culver- Narrows, never changing its name. through these adds , became known to many as simply, "Thrifty".
Many changes occurred over the years in the beer and soda industry; Schaefer and Rheingold were displaced by Budweiser, "The King of Beers" . German imports were all the rage, wine coolers and non-alcoholic brands of beer made their way into the marketplace and last but not least; LIte Beers saw their introduction and since, has become as popular as the regular brands sold. All these changes were also reflected by the soda industry with sugar free, lo-cal brands being introduced almost daily. Waters have become just as popular as beer and soda. Plastic bottling and cardboard cases made for easier handling and shipping.
By far, the most drastic change to this industry was the passage of the bottle deposit law. In one fell swoop, this bill forced upon stores, overhead issues such as increased needs of storage space, more employees to handle returnables, sanitary issues and most notable, the added price of the deposits to the wholesale pricing of these beverages at $1.20 per case in most instances. The storage space alone for the "empties" equals , and in many instances, is greater than the space needed to warehouse and retail product! Changes in appearance to Culver-Narrows retail floor occur as fast as the days pass. It is not uncommon to hear customers say "where did you put the Coca-Cola this time!" But always for certain, these changes are always pleasing to the eye.
For 60 years this store has been able to keep up with all of the massive changes and fierce competition for business ,where today, supermarkets and even gas stations and drug stores feature items that were once exclusive to Culver-Narrows. 60 years, three generations of ownership and three generations of customers serving and honoring each another at 990 McDonald Avenue in Brooklyn. How is this accomplished? Can't tell you for sure but my guess is that it is in the genes.