The stretch of Morgan Ave. between Williamsburg and Bushwick presents a drab, chain-link industrial landscape marked by old train tracks and multiple plastic bag manufacturers. Cool street art dresses up some of the corrugated metal walls, but careful the murals don’t distract you from the 18-wheelers careening away from the nearby depots or turning into the Boar’s Head Factory lot. It can be a harrowing bike ride east to the relative calm on the other side of Flushing Ave. While making this ride, I have always looked forward to turning the corner and reaching Golazo Sport, a bright Latino soccer oasis smack dab in the epicenter of hipsterdom (Full disclosure: I live in Bushwick).
Golazo Sport seemed like a typical independently owned, urban soccer shop — folded jerseys stacked toward the ceiling, the top of the walls lined with soccer posters — but the store has a long history. Golazo has sold uniforms to teams in weekend leagues around the Tri-state Area since 1989.
The shop’s sign is written in Spanish and a poster of the Mexican National Team hangs above the door. The curated storefront window displays the latest uniform releases, like the Barca highlighter of the month, and I was pumped when I spotted a striped Atletico Madrid shirt in that window for the first time in 2014. Golazo seemed to fill an important niche in the area, but I wondered how long it would survive with two charcuteries, hipster bars and a popular Asian noodle spot as neighbors.
I wasn’t surprised when I rode my bike past Golazo this evening and noticed the metal curtains shuttered, the shop stripped of merchandise and a few men surveying the inside. But I was disappointed to see another small business serving long-time neighborhood residents shoved aside by skyrocketing property value. Now the building owner can rent the space to a hot new juice bar or dog-grooming service. Great.
I rode a block further before I turned around to check out the shop again. The racks and shelves were empty, but the soccer posters still lined the walls. I looked around for a few moments before I spoke with two guys cleaning up inside. The store owner smiled and told me Golazo Sport isn’t closing, but they are moving to Knickerbocker Ave. at Harman Street, along a popular shopping strip deeper in Bushwick.
A small business adapts to the gentrification squeeze to survive. Golazo Sport is a soccer shop representative of the New York City experience in 2015.