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Ray’s Candy Cleans Up

Picture 065Kenan ChristiansenA Ray’s customer contemplates the closure notice.

This morning Ray Alvarez could not stop fidgeting. He checked the soda machine for dirt, scrubbed the countertop with bleach, and consolidated the coffee into one pot. As he worked he counted off each potential violation.

“Now I’ve got to wash these, too, or they’ll be on to me,” he said, referring to the empty coffee pitchers.

Two days ago, Ray’s Candy Store, at 113 Avenue A, was ordered to close by the Department of Health. The store had racked up 53 points in health code violations, for issues which included mouse excrement on the floor and dirt on the soda machine.

The 78-year-old owner was told he could not reopen until these issues were addressed and his shop passed a follow-up inspection. At the time, Mr. Alvarez ignored the order, fearing that if he closed, for even a day, the loss in revenue would put him out of business for good.

It ended up being a costly decision. When the health inspector returned yesterday and found him still operating, Mr. Alvarez received a hefty fine and now estimates that he owes a total of $7,000.
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Locals | Manny the Peddler

Manny_HowardDan Glass
Emmanuel Howard.

“Hey, buddy, I got some tools for ya,” says Emmanuel Howard from his table full of goods on Avenue A between Second and Third Streets. While helping a neighborhood acquaintance, he was greeted continually by passersby — elderly people with dogs, leggy blondes, kids, and street folk. He says he’s been selling here for 32 years.

Mr. Howard — who is known as Manny the Peddler to almost everyone — is one of the last street peddlers on the Lower East Side, infamous in the 80’s and 90’s for blocks-long stretches of people selling everything from antique furniture to dead batteries. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani eliminated much of the street vending during his terms, but Mr. Howard remains. At 70, he still hauls second-hand merchandise by handtruck, virtually all of it set aside for him by neighborhood residents, with one recent score of metal garbage cans and push brooms from Stomp, courtesy of the Orpheum Theater.

“There used to be people everywhere at three, four o’clock in the morning,” says Mr. Howard, who rarely stands still, between arranging his inventory and giving a quick pitch to anyone eyeing an item. “Not like now.”
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