Photos from 2019 by Stacie Joy
Dress Shoppe II, the Indian boutique on Second Avenue between Fourth Street and Fifth Street, has had its share of heartbreak and struggle in the past two years.
Purushottam Goyal, the family's patriarch, died in September 2019. His wife of 50 years, Saroj Goyal, has been doing her best to keep the shop going... now she is undergoing treatment for breast cancer...
Brandon Stanton, the creator of the popular Humans of New York storyteller series, featured Saroj on his @HumansofNY Instagram account yesterday. He also got involved in helping her business, launching a crowdfunding campaign in the process.
Saroj is in a tough spot. She's still grieving her husband. She is undergoing treatment for breast cancer. And the stress is really destroying her mental health. I've spent the last several weeks digging into her situation, and it hasn't been easy to unwind. But I think we've figured out a path.
There's a lot of background on her financial situation. The following is from the GoFundMe page:
By the books — she is behind 24 months of rent. This is due to the disruption of her husband's death, her own health crisis, and the pandemic. Her store is located on 2nd Avenue, which is a prime location. And with tax and utilities, the full arrears would be $200,000. But there is certainly cause for major concessions from her landlord.But Saroj's "landlord" is not a landlord at all. Her storefront is owned by the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association II. The MHA II is a collective that subsidizes low-income residents on the Lower East Side. This means that the rental income from Saroj's storefront goes directly toward subsidizing the rent for low-income New Yorkers. MHA II is a lifeline to many people. And unfortunately the organization's finances have also been badly hurt by the pandemic.The board of MHA II is composed entirely of low-income tenants themselves. They have agreed to accept $130,000 to settle Saroj's debts. In addition to this — they have agreed to allow Saroj to stay in the store rent free for another six months as she attempts to sell as much inventory as possible. After this time hopefully Saroj will be in a position to relocate to a more manageable location.The $130,000 from this fundraiser will not only eliminate Saroj's debt, but it will also subsidize the rent of low-income New Yorkers. Any additional funds will go directly to Saroj, who is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and has to pay 20 percent of the expenses out of her own pocket. She is worried about losing her house.I know it's a lot of context to absorb. But beneath all the numbers and accounting, the goal of this fundraiser is to get Saroj out of crisis so that she can focus on healing. The waters are rising all around her, and we want to get her to some dry ground. The one thing she has is a lot of inventory. So we are hopeful that with some breathing room, she will be able to reposition herself for the long term.If you are in New York City, and would like some vintage handmade Indian clothing and fabric, please visit The Dress Shoppe at 83 2nd Avenue.