The New York Times has reaction from the Ukrainian specialty store's longtime patrons ... as well as third-generation owner Markian Surmach.
“You can trace the whole history of our community through this store,” said William M. Dubetz, 79, a security guard from the Bronx who has stopped by Surma for 61 years to pick up his weekly Ukrainian newspaper. “I don’t know what will happen to that culture once it closes.”
Despite the gentrification of Little Ukraine (and its corresponding rent increases), Markian Surmach was not exactly forced out of his store. He owns the building, which his grandfather bought for $15,000. Its sale now is likely to fetch millions — a sum surely never envisioned by the young Myron Sr., whose mother sold a cow so he could afford to leave Ukraine. Although many customers bemoaned his decision, Mr. Surmach explained that sales have slumped since the 1990s, when the fall of the Soviet Union and the proliferation of cheap specialty goods online made Surma’s once scarce wares more readily available.
“Even if we own the building, the property taxes and upkeep are very expensive and have drowned out profits to the point where we’re barely floating,” Mr. Surmach, 54, said. “If we didn’t own the place, we’d have been out of business decades ago.”