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First Avenue Convenience Store To Be Replaced by Similar

Hetal 111 First Convenience StoreSuzanne Rozdeba

Hetal 111 First Convenience Store on First Avenue was being cleared out by workers today, and a new business is already planned in its place.

“I’m opening a convenience store at 111 First Avenue. That’s my lucky number,” laughed Zahid, the new owner, who declined to give The Local his last name. The number is also the address of the store.

Zahid owns another convenience store in a “quiet” area of Kew Gardens, Queens, but said he likes the vibrancy of the East Village. “There’s life over there. You can see that. I lived in Karachi in Pakistan, and back then, it was thickly populated. It was busy 24 hours. That’s in my system,” he said.

“My target is to open hopefully the first week of next month,” he said. He will sell items including magazines, newspapers, health and beauty aids, candy, beer, and soda. He plans on staying open from 6 a.m. until midnight, and later on weekends.

The store will be called 111 Convenience Store. Sometimes, at least, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Making It | Grace Kang of Pink Olive

For every East Village business that’s opening or closing, dozens are quietly making it. Here’s one of them: Pink Olive.

Grace Kang spent her early career as a buyer for fashion retailers like Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, and Saks. “People thought I would open a fashion clothing store,” she said, “but I am into doing the unexpected.” Five years ago, she opened Pink Olive, a gift shop stocked with charming treasures at 439 East Ninth Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A. It did so well that she opened a second location in Park Slope. She told us how she’s managed to make it.


Why did you choose the East Village?


The East Village has always felt like home to me. It’s my favorite neighborhood because it is low-key and full of unexpected finds. That’s what Pink Olive is all about, too: character with hidden gems. The East Village has the kind of vibe I wanted for my store. Read more…

Making It | Igor Iskiyev of Igor’s Clean Cuts

For every East Village business that’s opening or closing, dozens are quietly making it. Here’s one of them: Igor’s Clean Cuts.

Igor Iskiyev, Imanuel (Manny) Ibragimov of Igor's Clean CutsShira Levine Igor Iskiyev tends to a customer while Imanuel (Manny) Ibragimov looks on.

Five years ago Igor Iskiyev left his gig cutting hair at Neighborhood Barber on East Ninth Street and became commissar of his own chop shop at 20 First Avenue. The Azerbaijan native had dabbled with hair-cutting back home after serving as an anti-aircraft gunman. Igor’s reputation for detail and perfection precedes him: good Yelp reviews, affordable prices ($15 for a haircut, $15 for a shave) and, let’s face it, the occasional offer of a beer have been key to his success. The Local recently spoke with Mr. Iskiyev and his right-hand man, Imanuel (Manny) Ibragimov about Mr. Iskiyev’s decision to go solo and his distaste for small talk.


How is business?


Igor: Right now it is slow, but not very bad. It was not good in 2008. Customers didn’t come as much. Some moved because they couldn’t afford to stay. We didn’t see many of our old customers for a while. Read more…

Side-by-Side, East Village Chain Stores Would Span 16 City Blocks (Plus: Map)

textchains2Illustration: Lauren Carol Smith
chainsfinal CLICK TO ENLARGE

There’s been much ado about chain stores lately: last month, anarchists targeted a new 7-Eleven; earlier this week, Community Board 3 continued its discussion on retail diversity; and now a petition calls for a halt to the perceived chain invasion in the East Village. But just how many chains are in the neighborhood, anyway? The Local pounded the pavement to find out.

The petition claims that “zip code 10003, which we all know as the East Village, now has the most national retail stores of any zip code in NYC (except for one that has a huge shopping mall).” Not exactly true: a recent study by the Center for an Urban Future found 169 chain retailers in the zip code, actually the third-most in the city. Since the 10003 zip includes parts of the Flatiron District and Gramercy (and only part of the East Village), the question remains: how much of the East Village do chain stores own?

Here’s what we found: if one were to place every national chain store, bank, restaurant, and movie theater in the East Village side-by-side, they would span 16 city blocks, and that’s with stores on both sides of the street. Read more…

Need Umbrellas and Candy? Look No Further Than Ame Ame

IMG_3012Stephen Rex Brown The owner of Ame Ame, Teresa Soroka.

A new store on Ninth Street takes the term “specialty shop” to the next level.

Ame Ame caters to the stylish New Yorker caught in the rain who also happens to have a sweet tooth. The name for the store comes from the Japanese word “ame,” which means — that’s right — both “rain” and “candy.”

“I want to put an end to those disposable, cheap, ugly black umbrellas,” said owner Teresa Soroka, 30, who opened the store on Nov. 16. “They’re bad for the environment, and in a fashionable city they’re a disgrace.”

So, why all the candy? “What’s better on a rainy day than a bag of candy?” Ms. Soroka explained. “I wanted a colorful, cheerful experience when shopping.” Read more…

The Day | Walking Against Gentrification

SlowScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

East Village cyclists have been put on notice. City workers plan to discard several abandoned bikes near East First Street between Avenue A and First Avenue, according to a Department of Transportation sign spotted by EV Grieve. Better pick yours up by the end of the day.

The New York Daily News profiled former CBGB bartender Jane Danger, owner of Jane’s Sweet Buns. The shop, at 102 St. Marks Place, features baked goods with hints of alcohol, like a Rum Runner bun with nutmeg, cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar, Galliano liqueur and aged rum.

Finally, Neither More Nor Less, Marty After Dark, EV Grieve, and Gothamist have photos from Saturday’s protest against East Village gentrification. Activist John Penley and his crew started at East Third Street, found its way to the BMW Guggenheim Lab and ended at what used to be Mars Bar. A poem was read. A cigarette was lit. Signs were waved, and then the protestors went home.


On St. Marks, Comics on the Big Screen

St. Mark's ComicsMeghan Keneally St. Mark’s Comics, 11 St. Marks Place.

This summer, the posters lining the walls of movie theaters could just as easily have been found in a teenager’s bedroom as comic books are hitting the big screen. “Thor” came out in May, “Green Lantern” in June, “The Green Hornet” in July, “Captain America: The First Avenger” debuted last weekend and new teaser trailers for the prequel to Spider Man and the return of “The Dark Knight” franchise were recently released.

Gossip Web sites and fashion magazines splash pictures of Hollywood stars greeting enthusiastic fans at Comic Con, the comic book trade show which finished Sunday in San Diego.

The public attention and adoration that equals big bucks for movie studios — “Captain America” brought in $65.8 million in its first weekend — does not necessarily translate into traditional book sales.

“Good movies help, and bad movies hurt,” said Mitch Cutler of St. Mark’s Comics, one of the oldest comic book retailers in Manhattan.
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For Locals, Shock at Mars Bar’s Closure

Mars Bar umbrellasJoshua Davis Former patrons of Mars Bar customers gathered outside the now-closed bar Monday night for an impromptu candlelight vigil.

Occasional customers and regulars at Mars Bar were shocked Monday night to learn that the Department of Health ordered the bar to close. City health inspectors found several sanitation violations and slapped a yellow “Closed” sticker on the bar’s front door Monday afternoon. Many East Villagers believe that Monday was the last time they’ll ever see Mars Bar open to the public.

Julie Turley, East Village resident since 1995 and a librarian at Borough of Manhattan Community College, said she loved the art on the walls at Mars Bar.

“I didn’t realize it was closing so soon. I don’t even drink really, but I always said if the Mars Bar closed, I would have to leave New York because it would be sort of the last slice of cake for that area — that represented this city’s grungy past. I never felt like I belonged there, but I’m still sad to see it go.”
Read more…

Liquor License Transfer Approved

Banjo Jim'sMeghan Keneally The transfer was approved for Banjo Jim’s.

The State Liquor Authority Committee of Community Board 3 Monday night endorsed the transfer of the liquor license at Banjo Jim’s, the popular bluegrass bar on Avenue C.

The transfer of the bar’s liquor license was said to be the only issue left to be resolved before the bar was sold to an ownership group led by Robert Ceraso. The next step is for the Community Board to pass along its recommendation to the State Liquor Authority.

The new license allows for acoustic guitar accompanied by microphone amplification and DJs up to two times per week. The hours will remain the same as they are at Banjo Jim’s currently — 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. throughout the week, and then from noon until 4 a.m. on the weekends. Few other details were finalized at Monday’s meeting, except that the signage will change — perhaps unsurprising since Mr. Ceraso has indicated that he will depart from the bluegrass theme and opt for an “artisanal” motif, which may not fit with the large banjo on the current sign over the bar’s front door. The bar’s new doors will be barn-style with glass windows that can be lifted and opened in the summer months.

Yippie Cafe to Reopen This Month

IMG_0004Khristopher J. Brooks Work is underway at the Yippie Museum Cafe.

Earlier today, EV Grieve reported that the Yippie Museum Cafe is under renovation. We now have more details about what the place will look like when the work is done.

When customers walk in, they’ll notice that the carpet, which dated back to the 1980’s, is gone. That’s because the cafe’s manager, Robert Payne, had the carpet pulled up and thrown away. Now after stepping in the front entrance, customers will see a black, rubber mat covering the hardwood floor.

After taking a few more steps into the cafe, customers will see stencil designs on the wood floor. Customers will also notice that the loft that loomed over the cafe’s cash register is gone. Mr. Payne, who plans to create the designs for the floors, decided the loft was taking up too much space. On the walls, customers will see the same Yippie posters and psychedelic art that was there before, but Mr. Payne will have the art restored, so the images will look like new.
Read more…

The Day | Something’s Missing

3rd Eye BlindTim Schreier

Good morning, East Village.

Watch where you step for the next couple of days. EV Grieve reports that someone in the neighborhood has lost a pet turtle. According to a flier posted on a pole at Ninth Street and Avenue C, the turtle is a red-eared Slider named Claudius. So, if you spot a random turtle crawling down the street, call 917-319-3975; it might be Claudius.

Also on Grieve: the management team at Sidewalk Bar & Restaurant says the bar aims to re-open Aug. 5 after being closed for repairs since March. The bar is known for its open mic nights; the owners proclaim Sidewalk holds the longest-running open mic night in the city. EV Grieve has snippets of an e-mail interview with the open-mic night leader Ben Krieger who said, “It looks like things are finally getting close to completion.” Mr. Krieger also wrote, “From what I know, the menu should be the same, but stripped down to about a third of the size, mainly the items that were selling. Prices should be about the same.”

And finally, East Villagers mourn the death of a long-time resident and Pratt Institute professor. The Local’s Chelsia Rose Marcius reports that Monica Shay, 58, a resident of East 10th Street, died Thursday after being shot in the head last weekend at her country home in eastern Pennsylvania. Mrs. Shay is the third person to die in the shooting; her nephew Joseph Shay and a 2-year-old boy died shortly after the shooting occurred. Two other people, including Mrs. Shay’s husband, Paul, remain in critical condition.

A Store’s Fall Blamed on Roku Not Rent

I-V ElectronicsMeghan Keneally I-V Electronics Corporation, 108 First Avenue.

I-V Electronics Corporation at 108 First Avenue will close its doors for good this evening. And unlike some recently shuttered businesses, it doesn’t blame its demise on rising rents, bike lanes, or a difficult landlord.

“It’s not our landlord — we have the best landlord in all of New York,” said the store’s owner, Richard Serowik. “It’s Netflix, its ordering online that killed us in the competition.”

The store, which rents DVDs and repairs electronics, has been at its First Avenue location between Sixth and Seventh Streets for the past 16 years. Mr. Serowik, however, has been in the video business for longer, having run a store of the same name in Chelsea prior to coming to the East Village.

But his foray into our neighborhood coincides with the rise of video-on-demand services such as Netflix, which started about a decade and a half ago and streams videos into viewers homes through a device known as a Roku box.

As part of the store’s closing sale, all DVDs are $2.99 until they close at 10 p.m., and, at 5 this afternoon, there was easily more than a hundred still on the shelves. But Mr. Serowik isn’t too worried: anything that he doesn’t sell tonight, he’ll just sell online. If you can’t beat the competition, join ‘em.

The Art of the Bookstore

Browsers at Mast BooksBrendan BernhardBrowsers at Mast Books.

On May 8, Mast Books, which takes up about 450 square feet at 66 Avenue A, sailed into its second year as a viable new business in the East Village. Why “Mast”? Is Bryan Leitgeb, who owns the store together with his wife, James McKee, a secret fan of Patrick O’Brian, C.S. Forester, and other icons of nautical literature? Smiling at this idea, Mr. Leitgeb shakes his head but says he prefers not to reveal why his store should have such a singular name.

Mr. Leitgeb, 37, who came to New York from Flint, Mich., is already a veteran of the city’s used-books business. (He spent seven years at Mercer Books alone.) He is also confident that he has hit upon the right business formula in the right place at the right time. Unlike East Village Books, long a fixture at 99 St. Marks Place, Mast has the air of a used book store acutely aware it is in the midst of an intellectual revolution that has raised the image far above the word.

This knowledge is Mast’s secret. With its polished wood floors, white walls, track lighting, and eye-catching display tables, it doesn’t look “used” or “second-hand” in the slightest. On the contrary, it is designed to evoke a small art gallery and to attract similarly chic crowds, although its strong neighborhood ethos prevents it from feeling in any way exclusionary. Mr. Leitgeb, whose blue eyes are alternately melancholy and highly focused, does his part to make non-hipsters feel at home by going unshaven, wearing non-designer glasses, and a brown cap unlikely to be featured in the next edition of Vogue. More importantly, he’s also unsnobbish, helpful, and friendly.
Read more…