Two weeks after opening his first store in Brooklyn, the founder of the costume and cosmetics store Ricky's NYC said he is planning to open three more in the borough in the near future.
"I never in a million years thought there was any place to be other than Manhattan," Ricky Kenig, 45, said. "Twenty years later, Brooklyn is booming. We are evolving by listening to our customers, and they are out here, too."
He's moving more than just his stores into Brooklyn: Mr. Kenig recently relocated his family into a brownstone on 8th Street and Seventh Avenue.
The arrival of Ricky's is more meaningful than a national chain moving in, brokers said.
"It's very symbolic," an executive vice president at Newmark Knight Frank, Jeffrey Roseman, said. "It really shows the acceptance of Brooklyn as a retail market. These guys live here, grew up here. When they embrace it, it says something to me."
The Brooklyn Heights outpost, at 107 Montague St., is the company's 23rd store. In addition, the company is opening a temporary Halloween store at Flatbush Avenue and Bergen Street, and it plans to bring three more retail stores to the borough, in areas such as Park Slope and Williamsburg, Mr. Kenig said.
The chain is only the latest to eye the rapid growth of Brooklyn as a drawing point, a senior partner with Massey Knakal, Timothy King, said.
The drive-in hamburger restaurant chain Checkers has made several offers on lots, and Trader Joe's, Urban Outfitters, and Whole Foods have staked out new territory. On Montague Street, the European chain VitalDent and organic cosmetic supply company Koress are opening new stores.
"Montague is kind of like the grand dame of Brooklyn retail," Mr. King said. "It is one of the most prestigious ZIP codes."
Founded in 1989 as a gritty shop at 718 Broadway at Washington Place, Ricky's has become to a slick operation with $33 million in sales last year. The company is managed by Mr. Kenig, his brother, Todd, and a childhood friend, Dominick Costello.
The core of the business is hair products and beauty supplies, but the company is increasingly using its Halloween business — which makes up some 10% of annual sales — to expand. If sales are strong this season at the temporary store on Flatbush Avenue, Mr. Kenigsaidthecompanywould likely make the half-million-dollar investment to stay there permanently.
As the company grows older, it is maturing, the company's creative director, Tommy Kim, said.
"There is a lot more emphasis on making sure our appearance is top-notch — everything from the storefront windows, signage, to the shelves and the way the products are merchandised," he said. Although it offers some adult content at each of its stores, there is sensitivity to the demographics, Mr. Kim said.
At the Montague Street location, for example, the adult section is cordoned off downstairs.
"We're very conscious of the whole family-oriented feel of the neighborhood," he said. Taking advantage of the deeper pockets and more high-end tastes of local shoppers, the store is offering products that are not sold at most Ricky's locations, including a $200 hair straightener from British based beauty products company GHD.
One barrier to faster growth is the price of property, Mr. Kenig said. For example, a space on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope is renting for $140 a square foot — the same price that it would cost to rent in the SoHo section of Manhattan, he said.
"Instead of asking a ridiculous amount of rent right now, these landlords should be looking for companies to be bedrocks of the community," he said. "We are here for the long term."