Monday, January 4, 2010

East Village vintage stores doomed?

According to the Post yesterday:

It's a nightmare for hipsters!

The East Village's vintage-clothing shops are about to go the way of leisure suits and flapper dresses, as a wave of closures hits home.

The latest blow to the corduroy-wearing set came [Saturday] when O Mistress Mine -- which counted Madonna, Paul McCartney and Marc Jacobs as customers -- closed its East 11th Street shop after some four decades in business.

Its owner, finding the city too expensive, is moving to cheaper space in Hoboken, NJ.

"I just couldn't make it," Wanda Hanlon said last week as she packed up her furs, beaded bags and gowns.

The article also notes that "Atomic Passion, which opened on East Ninth Street 17 years ago, may close in February if its landlord doesn't lower the rent. 'This has been the worst year we've had since 1992,' said co-owner Justin Vogel."

This Page 3 trends piece also noted that Loves Saves the Day and Poppet (East Ninth Street) closed last year. (No mention of Howdy Do, though.)

While the closure of these stores is a sad, troubling development, the article makes it seem as if you'll never be able to find another Wrangler snap-button western shirt from the 1970s anywhere in the neighborhood. The article doesn't mention any thrift/vintage shops that remain, such as Physical Graffiti on St. Mark's Place, Buffalo Exchange on 11th Street and No Relation on First Avenue. (And you could do a piece on any mom-and-pop shop with a specialty struggling now in NYC.)

Plus, there's more to it than higher rents/bad economy, at least in the case of vintage clothing stores. There's also the mindset of the younger generation, the privileged post-NYU/wherever-they-came-from crowd.

For instance. Late one Saturday afternoon this past summer, I bought a bunch of books and albums and a stupid shirt from a veteran sidewalk vendor on Second Street. I said that I was surprised such seemingly good items remained so late in the day. He shrugged and said "the kids who have moved into the neighborhood don't want used stuff. Everything has to be new. I call them the 'Ikea Generation.'"

An unemployed friend recently took a stack of clothes over to Beacon's Closet to try to get some cash. She said that they didn't want any of the vintage stuff. The only thing the store bought was a Banana Republic shirt that her sister gave her.

Or maybe more people are scoring vintage finds at thrift stores away from NYC. Like my unemployed friend who returns from visiting her parents far away with $2 shirts that would run about $200 at Cheap Jack's.

Or maybe we can just blame all this on Bloomberg, which is always fun. This all falls in step with the Bloomyberg mindset: Unique vintage stores don't fit in with his vision of a suburban American city.

Whatever the case, the neighborhood continues to slowly slip away....


Jeremiah Moss said...

i've been worrying about Atomic Passion for years. hope they can survive.

Anonymous said...

This is so sad. So many unique places are slipping away and when it's all over and there's nothing but Chase banks, Dunkin Donuts, and McDonalds left, people are going to say, "What happened?" but by then it will be too late. Nobody can afford to survive here anymore. Greed is KILLING NYC and its character.

Anonymous said...

I am a veteran thrift/flea shopper and I would absolutely hate to see these places go. I admit, however, I mostly avoid the smaller boutiques in the East Village because they are pretty expensive (I did love Howdy Do and Love Saves the Day, though). Atomic Passion is a great store and I hope they can hold on. (I'd rather see a boring labelwhore store like Tokyo Joe fold -- and why are they so nasty to everyone? but I digress)

When I feel like thrifting I usually head over to the East 23rd corridor that has a Goodwill, SalArmy, City Opera, and Housing Works all in an avenue's span (plus the Vintage Thrift right on 3rd). But really, the best thrifting is to be done outside of NYC entirely.

I do agree that (many, but not all) kids today love new stuff, or at least don't even consider used things. Not too long ago I was in East Village Books, overhearing some big loud jock type shouting at the owner about how he couldn't believe how cheap the place was and how long had it been there and did people know about it?! meh, I guess I should just be happy that the kid (ostensibly) reads books.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

I've shopped thrifts for many years. Many of those in the nabe are now consignment stores for the rich, not true thrift stores. However, I'm now avoiding any thifts, due to several experiences I've heard about, including that of a friend who has had her clothes in plastic bags for six months now. In a word: bedbugs.

Jeremiah Moss said...

the bedbug concern is valid. however, if you toss your thrift-store clothes in the dryer for 30 minutes on high, you will kill whatever might be lurking inside. dry cleaning works too.

do this right after buying them and before taking them inside your home. if you do take them in, keep them tied tightly in a plastic bag until you can take them to the laundromat.

ak said...

i wanna second what jeremiah said about the bedbugs and thrift/street cloth finds.

also, i want to second what anon-9:52 AM said. atomic passion is a great little store - but i've rarely been able to afford anything in it (though they have great finds). i end up doing most of my thrift shopping outside of NYC when i'm on vacation.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

Find me a laundromat in the neighborhood that allows you to dry only; most have signs prohibiting it.
Also, any ideas what to do about hats, which are among my favorite thrift purchases? Boots, which can harbor the little buggers, too? As can books. Sigh.

Tom said...

There isn't much "thrifty" about Atomic Passion. Maybe the reason they are struggling is that everything they sell is more expensive than buying new. Thrift shopping is about saving money just as much as funky style.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks for all the comments here. I do hope that all of these shops can survive -- Atomic Passion in particular ... In any event, I usually prefer digging through a big mound of clothes at a, say, Salvation Army for a find as opposed to just having it right there on the rack or in the front window with a hefty price tag on it.

~evilsugar25 said...

ah, this is preaching to the choir, but the little "junk" shops is what i loooved about this 'hood. not only clothes, but furniture and tchotkes... waldorf hysteria? cha-cha-tchotka? a rose is rose? sigh.

metropolis on third is still around and has some great stuff, but is sooo overpriced. $95 for a ozzy t-shirt that my mom is dusting the living room with? please.

EV Grieve said...

Ah, yes ~evilsugar25... I always liked Gary's on East Fourth Street near First Avenue... They always had boxes full of people's old photos for sale. I wish I could remember when they closed...seems to me that they moved to New Jersey as well...

Anonymous said...

Oh no! No more $80 Levi's from the 90's!!!!!!!!!!! Life as we know it is over!!!!

Thrift stores are a joke.

omistressnyc said...

O Mistress Mine has reopened with a space at Sara's, 65 E. 4th St. between Bowery & 2nd Ave. NY 10003.
Great to be back operating in the East Village with the same great Vintage. Wanda Hanlon, Proprietor