Beer buyout may be backfiring


By Aidan Gardiner

A recent art stunt meant to revive a strained business has pushed Hercules Fancy Foods, which has long struggled under dwindling sales, reeling against the ropes.

On May 20, five performance artists entered Hercules Fancy Foods, a longtime, eclectic beer proprietor at Morton St. and Seventh Ave. South, and bought out his entire stock. Kyle MacDonald, who famously traded his way up from a red paperclip to a house, led the team. The artists hoped the money would help the struggling grocer, but unintended consequences and poor financial foresight have put a damper on their efforts.

Hercules Dimitratos, the store’s owner and founder, said that he is now struggling to get his shop back on stable financial ground. Dimitratos’s trademark has been selling assorted high-end and craft beers. By buying out his entire stock at cost, however, the artists inadvertently forced him into a business dilemma: restock his gourmet brews and be in the same position he was before or limit his stock at the risk of losing customers.

Dimitratos told this newspaper that his once-signature, high-end beers are now too expensive for him.

Dimitratos’s stock is now being resold in the Fusion Arts Museum at Stanton and Eldridge Sts. Those who are interested can buy a pack of Marlboro cigarettes for $406, a roll of toilet paper for $75, and a can opener amusingly titled “Apocalypse Relief” for $2,102.

But this project’s execution has inadvertently highlighted the strained relationship that the arts and business has always shared.

The artists, for their part, are also feeling the financial hit. According to their Web site, many of them were forced to take advances on their credit cards. They had hoped by marking up the merchandise, they would be able to recoup the costs. Now, however, they’re finding their project’s revenue-generating aspect to be sluggish, and that they, themselves, owe thousands of dollars on credit.