There used to be a key taped to the back of it, but it was lost a long time ago. And so, our German clock hasn’t ticked or tocked for decades.
I took it to M.M. Housewares & Hardware at 94-04 Jamaica Avenue, a few doors down from Manor Deli, across the street from Schmidt’s. If you’ve never been inside this place, you are missing out on something really special.
It’s the kind of store we all say we want in Woodhaven, the kind of store we wish we had more of. In short, it’s the closest thing we have to the old Lewis’ of Woodhaven, high praise that is well deserved.
I showed the clock to owner Jack Moy, who launched the shop with his family in the early 1980s. The Moy family not only invested in Woodhaven by opening a shop, they bought a home nearby.
Jack tried a few skeleton keys but none were the right fit, so he told me to give him a few minutes. So while I browsed the shop, Jack made a key for me.
Yes, you read that correctly, he manufactured a key out of a Phillips head screw and a piece of wood, and it worked perfectly. Within a few minutes of walking into the store, the old clock that hadn’t worked in decades was humming along nicely.
And Jack didn’t charge me a penny for his efforts.
Talk to anyone who shops at M.M. Housewares, and you’ll hear similar stories about great service or the hard-to-find items they couldn’t find anywhere, but found them at Jack’s.
“He’s the only one who knows how to make keys that work,” says Woodhaven’s Linda Fogal.
“Whenever something breaks, this is my first stop,” added Stephen Forte, the newly elected president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. “If he doesn't have it, it probably doesn't exist.”
“One time after marveling that he had everything, I said to Jack, ‘but, I bet you don't have tomatoes, do you?’” recalled Father Norman Whitmire of All Saints Episcopal Church on 96th Street. “‘Of course I do,’ he replied proudly, ‘Go down this aisle, look on the right side, and you'll find tomato seeds!’”
That’s the kind of store it is. The moment you walk inside, you’ll know you’ve found something special. There isn’t an inch of wasted space, the aisles are packed from the floor to the ceiling with products. And it specializes in the kinds of items that old houses like the ones in Woodhaven need.
Skeleton keys, the little keys to bleed your radiators, the old light switch plates, fuses – they can all be found on the walls and down the aisles. And if you don’t see what you’re looking for, ask Jack, because he knows where it is.
“I like a challenge,” Jack said to me, smiling, after getting my clock working again.
And he doesn’t just stock small items, you can get other things for the household such as blenders and lamps and clocks and radios and shopping carts. In other words, it’s exactly the kind of store people reminisce about when talking about the good old days in Woodhaven.
It’s vital that we shop local whenever we can, keeping as much of our money right here in Woodhaven, instead of handing it over to big corporations who will invest their profits elsewhere. “Shop Local” isn’t just a slogan, it’s a strategy.
So, the next time you need nails or plumber’s putty or a screwdriver, don’t automatically run to Home Depot for what you need. Stay local and see if you can get it at Jack’s.
Looking for some Christmas presents, but not sure what you want to get? Stop at Jack’s and browse the aisles and you’ll likely find something interesting, useful and affordable.
Looking for that little item that you need to get something old running again? Stop in and see if Jack can help. And you may just end up with a Jack story of your own.