"Going out of business" signs now hang in the front window at Rauls Candy Store, bringing an end to the one-of-a-kind shop's nearly 43 years in the neighborhood.
EVG reader Jenny Dembrow shared the photo here from yesterday. Raul closes at the end of the month. No word at the moment why the candy shop/neighborhood hangout/junk shop is closing. (See below for update.)
Raul opened in 1976. The shop has been at No. 205 between 12th Street and 13th Street since 1981.
In a September 2012 interview with The Local, Petra Olivieri, wife of owner Raul Santiago, said that their rent was $100 a month on Avenue D. "Then it started going up: $200, $300. Here, we now pay $2,400. So we have to sell a lot more."
Here's more from the Q&A:
Q. You manage all that selling candy?
A. We sell “chucherias” (knick-knacks), candy and sodas. Raul also sells books and other stuff. There’s not that many of these type of stores around anymore.
Q. Are you both from Puerto Rico?
A. 100 percent. I was born in Las Marias and grew up in Mayagüez. Raul is from… I can’t remember where he’s from. Humacao, maybe. I met him here. He used to go to the island every year. I don’t.
Q. Is it mostly Puerto Ricans who buy things here?
A. We get people from all classes, no matter the race or color. Some come in to look and take pictures. Others come to hang out. It’s like in Puerto Rico, where there are “kioskos,” small businesses where neighborhood people get together. We play dominos out here and we have a good time between people of the old guard.
Updated 4:30 p.m.
Stacie Joy stopped by the shop today. Raul says he's "tired and needs to rest." She asked what if anything the community could do and he said nothing. He just wants to stop. He says it's time.
[EVG photo from June 2010]