Thursday, July 16, 2015

[Updated] Russian Souvenirs is no more on East 14th Street



One of the more unique shops around has apparently closed. An EVG reader reported that the shop on East 14th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue was cleaned out on Monday.

EVG East 14th Street/IHOP Way correspondent Pinch confirmed that the shop now mostly sits empty.



Unfortunately, we have no idea why the store closed. Rent hike? A retirement? (The owner, the rather cantankerous Alex Bogatyr, is up in his years.) The market for Russian knickknacks waning?

The store has been around for years. Jeremiah Moss wrote about the shop back in 2009:

The walls are covered with paintings of dour-faced bearded men, sunsets, and lonely forests. In the back, there are racks and racks of clothing and fabrics. And all around, everywhere you look, the shelves are stacked high with tchochkes.

And!

If you do decide to shop here, be ready to bargain. Alex is a haggler, and he's a serious man. A professional who knows his wares, he will not give you service with a smile, nor with a sneer. This is old Leningrad on 14th Street, not Bed, Bath, & Beyond where the robotic staff are programmed to utter a monotoned hello to you every five seconds.

Updated 5:53 p.m.

From the comments… author Romy Ashby stopped by …

"I went in to visit with him yesterday at about 5 PM. He was having a sandwich and we talked. He said that a rent hike is the reason he's leaving. He had me write my name and number in a notebook full of names and numbers, and he said he will call if he finds another place."

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's most unsettling when establishements such as this, which seem like they've been there forever, or at least before one or one's parents had been born, almost in defiance of their invincible longevity, just suddenly die.

Anonymous said...

So sad. What an interesting place...somehow I knew this closure was coming. What next... another juice bar?

Gojira said...

Oh, this is so sad. I walked by this place just last week, stopped and looked into the window display that last changed circa 1989, like I usually did, and wondered, how much longer it could hold on, also like I usually did. Now I have my answer and I don't like it one bit. This was the last of several Russian stores on that block that were there when I moved to the EV in the late 1970s; wonder what yawn-inducing chain or cutesy food concept will move in to replace it. Juiced acai froyo? Bye, Alex...

Anonymous said...

What a joke that the 14th Street Business Improvement District has their offices on the same street, yet another BID doing nothing to help small businesses thrive in NYC.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, cantankerous is the perfect word. In 2009 or 2010 he told me he was closing, but was going to stay open until what was left on the shelves couldn't cover the overhead anymore. Point is: it wasn't a sudden death.

Anonymous said...

The unintended consequence of the collapse of socialism in the USSR.

Anonymous said...

I'm as #SaveNYC as anyone, but honestly, I went in there once to check it out, and it was unappealing and did not seem to be an actual business. I'm a second-hand store lover, but this was junk. It was a grungy, sad place - so this turn of events was quite predictable.

Not many things can run on nostalgia alone.

Goggla said...

Ugh, I knew this day would eventually come. I took this shot of the interior in 2006:

https://flic.kr/p/kzqHS

A couple of years ago, I spent an afternoon talking to the owner. What an interesting guy. It would be great if someone could interview him as he has loads of stories.

jimmy.nyc said...

sounds like an opportunity for http://www.noyourcity.com, a web series that at EV Grievers should be aware of by now.

Pinch said...

Last night, as well as this morning, the owner (I believe it was him) was inside tending to things; I didn't take the opportunity to pop in though, as he looked very focused on his tasks.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

Always liked window shopping this place and the wig place next door (think it was next door).

Charlie said...

This place closed for the same reason that DeRobertis closed: a failure to evolve the business. If you think of businesses like individual species, and the growth and decline of businesses as evolution, those businesses that fail to evolve to capture resources, in the form of market trends and new customers, will go extinct. Yes, Katz's and Veniero's are more touristy, but because they have adapted to cater to tourists, they survive and thrive, keeping the business alive to the next generation. Just like evolution.

http://evgrieve.com/2014/05/110-year-old-derobertis-pasticceria-and.html

Makeout said...

Right on jimmy.nyc! Thanks for tip- looks killer!

Romy Ashby said...

I went in to visit with him yesterday at about 5 PM. He was having a sandwich and we talked. He said that a rent hike is the reason he's leaving. He had me write my name and number in a notebook full of names and numbers, and he said he will call if he finds another place.

8E said...

I bought a samovar as a wedding gift there in 1987.

EV Grieve said...

Ugh… thanks for the report, Romy...

blue glass said...

long story short Sweet 14 was created by CB#3, CB#6, and local elected officials to solve the drug problem in the 9th and 13 precincts and to try and preserve the local businesses.
funded by con edison, city government and i forget who else, Sweet 14 did very little until it was turned into a BID and property owners were taxed for expanded city services.
i do not think that much was accomplished over all these years.

nygrump said...

In The Iron Heel by Jack London, the railroads are described as taking all the profits of its customers by adjusting its pricing in such a way as to always be just at the cusp of what would be profitable (they did this by inserting spies into the businesses). I think in our society it is the real estate trusts that are performing this service, everytime a business is profitable and successful, the landlord raises the rent; there is no additional value or service, the business can move of course, this is what we mean when we have a free country. The actual end result is the real estate trusts are job killers.

cool said...

so upsetting ughhhhhhhhhhhh