Friday, July 23, 2021

Humans of New York inspires an outpouring of support for Dress Shoppe II on 2nd Avenue

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.

He writes:
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.
As of 8 a.m., the campaignamplified by Nicolas Heller, aka @NewYorkNico — has raised more than $412,000 after 17 hours. 

And here's Saroj's story on Humans of New York...


Anonymous said...

This heartbreaking post made me cry!

Saroj, you are NOT alone. There is a community here that loves you, and what Mr Stanton has done to help exemplifies the potential kindness humans (of NY!) can offer. He didn't need to do any of this, yet he did. Thank you for bringing this story to light. And thanks to all who have already contributed to the Gofundme - incredible!

Anonymous said...

What a blessing & if she wants to continue on with the store I truly hope she stays at 83 2nd Ave

Virginia Kelley said...

I was an occasional Dress Shoppe customer and admirer of Mr Gopal ever since his shop was just off Broadway, on Astor Place I think, and he was always nice enough to remember me. I was sad to hear he'd died, then just last Sunday surprised and pleased to see the shop still in business and looking full of the kinds of things you never find anywhere else in Manhattan.

Grateful for the opportunity to add a bit to the outpouring of help for Saroj, and hoping the security provided by the community helps her start to feel better again.

Anonymous said...

God bless you, Saroj! You and your husband form part of the bedrock of this community.

I sincerely hope your medical treatment will completely cure you of your cancer. I wish you good health, first & foremost. Please take good care of yourself, and I'm glad if this campaign will allow you to stop worrying about how to pay for medical care & keeping your house.

I hope you will always know how many, many people care about you, and how many people knew & cared about your husband, too. We all wish you every good thing in life.

Anonymous said...

She is a lovely person and it is so wonderful that people are stepping up to help. Is there anyone working on finding her professional business guidance? She needs someone trustworthy and honest to analyze the situation. It seems like it would be best for her to shut down the business after she pays off the $130,000 in debt. Between the pandemic and people shopping online it is so hard to make a go of any retail shop in the city. Ideally she would raise enough money to pay off her debts and retire.

Lola Sáenz said...

Sad story but a Beautiful ending.
Humans of New York are pretty Amazing! Hopefully Saroj can rest easy 🙏🏼 she's not alone.