Monday, July 11, 2016

New York Central Art Supply is closing at the end of September


[EVG photo from 2015]

Sad news via the EVG inbox this morning...

New York Central — one of the oldest art supply stores in the country — has announced it will be going out of business due to poor business conditions and it’s building being sold. The store, which has been in continuous operation at 62 Third Avenue since 1905, is losing its month to month lease at the end of September.

Founded in 1905 by Benjamin Steinberg, the store has been run by the Steinberg family for more than 3 generations. Benjamin’s son Harold (whose brother Gilbert went on to open Lee’s Art Shop which also recently closed) took over in the 1940s. The store’s most recent President, Steven Steinberg, started working at the store in the 1950s and took over in the early 1970s. He built the store into a mainstay of modern artists, and added a world-renowned paper department. His sister Marcia Norins worked there as well, running New York Central Framing, which closed in 2012. Steven Steinberg recently passed away in November of 2015 after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s Disease, and his sister Marcia passed away from Cancer in July of 2015.

“We’ve held on as long as we could out of loyalty to our long-time staff and amazing customers, but the business was not set up to survive current economic conditions,” said Barrie Steinberg, Steven’s daughter.

The store's customer list over the years has read like a who's who of modern artists, including Andy Warhol, Willem deKooning, Frank Stella, Larry Rivers, Cecily Brown, Keith Haring and many more, but in recent years the store has faced tremendous challenges from the rise of online shopping and the infiltration of national chain stores.

“In a world where people can get what they need shipped to their door with the tap of a finger, Central’s old-world charm and personal service was both a blessing and a curse,” said Doug Steinberg, Steven’s son. “It’s very emotional for everyone. I’ve known most of the employees since i was a boy. I really hope another store realizes how amazing they are and offers them a new opportunity”

The store plans on remaining open throughout the summer as it liquidates current inventory.

Previously

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

RIP Pearl Paint on Canal, and now NYCentral

p.s. It's okay, because the EV is no longer an artistic community anyway.

Anonymous said...

...sad news.

Anonymous said...

The EV lost its identity years ago it has become another tourist and college hangout

Anonymous said...

Crap! Argh.

Anonymous said...

Buying online is great, but you need to touch and see paper, for example, if you haven't bought it before. This is depressing.

Anonymous said...

A true loss for the community and the artists who live nearby.....and far away. Walking into this incredible institution was always a bit humbling for me. Standing literally on the same floorboards as some of the great artists of NYC of the 20th century can make you feel like you are a part of the real art world. This is not a store for amateurs, though amateurs could easily find what they are looking for. But make no mistake about it, this is not your mother's Michael's. This is a real art supply store with everything you might want or imagine. Hard to find brands or tools or papers gave this specialty store a feeling like no other. It was a much as a fantasy shop for artists as Weaselys Magic Shop in Harry Potter was for the students of Hogswart. NYCentral is a truly magical store in many ways and I am deeply saddened to see such a fine establishment come to a glorious end.
But it was inevitable I guess....the block is just waiting for some developer to get the wrecking ball lined up. I can only imagine how many millions the building was worth these days.

jennydevildoll said...

That sucks. Like others have mentioned, they were always helpful, with a lot of hard to find stuff. I remember going there for cel-vinyl paints, back when I was doing traditional animation.

Anonymous said...

How about a Citibike hub in there; seems like what the colonialists want.

Anonymous said...

@1:19pm: You have said it all. I guess we get another bar, b/c we don't have nearly enough of those in our area.

And none of the new arrivals in our area have a clue about art or the arts in general. All they know/care about is $$, getting drunk, and being on their damn phones. What a small world they inhabit.

Anonymous said...

NYC continues to become a sterile city which is finding it harder and harder to find a right balance between the Inept Rich and the Culturally Rich...

NOTORIOUS said...

Please don't use the Amazon excuse. Art supplies are the one thing I never buy online. I shop at Blick VS this store because it's bigger, brighter, the staff is available and helpful, and if I touch paper I'm not required to buy it.

St. Mark's Books tried using the Amazon excuse, among other things, and Amazon has nothing to do with it. It's outdated stores, outdated shopping experiences, and moody staff that are usually the reasons people stop shopping at a store.

cmarrtyy said...

Traditional stores will close not because of moody help, outdated shopping experiences but because an older business will not work for the landlord. They want their fair share. But between the rent, city regulations and taxes a small business doesn't stand a chance at a fair share... especially if you throw in price on which a small store can't compete.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 12:56 PM is right! Touching / handling materials is so important to art - the feel of the paper, the canvas, the pen, the brush in your hands adds so much to how you can express your creativity.

Anonymous said...

This is NYC today: 111 years of this store's existence, gone in the blink of an eye. A rich piece of Village history washed away - and for what? For another coffee shop? Another bar? Maybe Pourhouse is going to expand? This neighborhood is pretty much only about booze and coffee at this point.

When I moved here, this was a vibrant neighborhood (without NYU dorms, and without any NEED for NYU dorms). There was a great mix of small independently-owned businesses. People moved in & stayed & knew each other & respected each other. Now it's just a revolving door of post-college "But mom, I *gotta* live in the East Village!" kiddies who are here for a year and who put down no roots. They have no stake in this neighborhood, and no interest in its past or its future. They only care about getting what they want right this minute.

There are very few grown-ups around any more, and very little in the way of shops like NY Central. Pretty soon: "and then there were none"...

I hate seeing NYC blanded out.

Anonymous said...

I concur with many of the expressed opinions of others on here. It is a sad day for all of us who utilized this store for their materials. They are a pilar in our community and will be missed. Here's the reality, whether those of you chose to disregard it or not, stores of this nature are becoming obsolete. There are other competitive venues offering more for less, not to mention how many can accrue a lot of these items online. Also, the landscape of the modern day consumer has evolved. As we age and grow older, our needs shift. In addition, real estate has developed substantially and removed the mom and pop equation. They too have to make money on their properties and investments. I know that sucks and I will probably get a lot of shit for that, but I don't care. If we want to elicit change as a society, we must be willing to compromise and let go of certain places. It sucks for the owners and neighborhood, but everything in NYC can't remain the same way. Adapt. Adapt.

fred said...

For me the staff was the magic ingredient that made New York Central so superior to other art supply stores. Most such stores have a student staff that turns over every few months. New York Central's employees had mostly been there for years, and I think they were all working artists. They had a deep knowledge about the tools and materials. You could talk to them about any arcane thing you were trying to accomplish and they were usually able to give incredibly incisive and helpful advice. It wasn't just a store - New York Central was an institution and a temple of craft.

paddy523 said...

I've been buying my brushes there since I moved here in the 80's! How sad. Creativity nowadays seems to be yogurt shops and bro bars!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with many of the commenters. So now I must add yet another name to the already long list of places that have gone or going soon since I came back to NY 17 years ago after many years overseas. So sad. All places that I frequented often and was so happy to find again after living in a place that had no character. New York is now becoming that place.

Anonymous said...

They've had over ten years to set up online selling. Why didn't they do it?

Anonymous said...

Not very easy to sell artist paper online. They do sell some products online.

Anonymous said...

Sad to see their paper department go. But their papers came from somewhere. Most of their Japanese/Asian papers came from a distributor in LA. Most of their other artist papers came from Legion Paper, right here in NY. These papers are still alive.

bayou said...

But seeing them in one place was so useful for comparison shopping, for weights, etc. They had curated and culled an impressive collection.I buy loads of decorative paper for work; Kate's is gone, Pearl River is gone, Lee's is gone and NY Central was the best paper wall in the world. Plus they had lamb lung treats for dogs - the best!

Anonymous said...

Bought my first art supplies there as a 14 use old student at the art students league over 47 years ago! One of a kind place!

DrBOP said...

Note to 1905 self =

BUY the building!

Anonymous said...

Devastating news! I mail-order from NY Central, because they have the best selection in the entire country... The entire world, maybe even?!

Anonymous said...

111 years is a helluva run.

When oh when are you people gonna get that NYC is a giant Indianpolis now?

You want art, thought, creativity? Go to anywhere but here.

It's over and been over since the 1990s yeah that's right the EV sucked ass back then, too. Shit died in 1991.

LPIFLY said...

This is the worst loss.

Anonymous said...

you have hit it square on the head.
damn.........

Roberto Gonzalez Rivera said...

Sad, sad, sad. This is the very first art store I knew, as a student in NYU, long ago. It used to be a delight, going there. Another landmark gone, along with Pearl Paint. I guess we're showing our age. It's sobering to see the artists and institutions we know start passing away. It reminds us of our own mortality. That's a little of what we mourn today: we mourn our early days; we mourn ourselves. Young artists will never know New York Central Art Supply even existed. Life goes on.

Shen Doshi said...

Which LA distributer?