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Making It | Jayant Patel and M. Aslam of Essex Card Shop

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

essexShira LevineM. Aslam (left) and Jayant Patel (right) outside of their store.

Twelve years ago, Jayant Patel came to the East Village for cheaper rent (yes, your read that correctly), after the monthly dues were hiked at his 12-year-old stationery store at 116th Street and Broadway. Back then, the rent in the city-owned building at 39 Avenue A was $3,500. It’s now $5,800, and the modest paper store has expanded to include items like printer cartridges, socks and baby clothes. Five years ago, Mr. Patel, who is Indian, partnered with M. Aslam, a Pakistani immigrant. Not only are the two of them making it at Essex Card Shop (and at their other store, Village Stationery on LaGuardia Place), but as Mr. Patel revealed to The Local, a movie is being made about his life story.


There is a lot of quirkiness in here, with thoughtful quotations you’ve pasted here on the counter. What is your philosophy on life?


Mr. Patel: My philosophy is “truth, love, and honesty.” It’s universal. Trust is something everyone follows. If you are truthful then people will trust you. I see myself as Muslim, Hindu, Christian, all in one. If you’re nice to people, people are friendly. People in New York are good. New York is a tough town, but it’s full of good people if you stop and experience it. Life is hard and not always comfortable. Struggle makes you strong and I don’t mind it. Read more…