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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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On St. Marks, Feeling The Recession

Some employees of the souvenir shops on St. Marks Place near Cooper Square say they are relying on Christmas sales to boost their revenue before the end of the year.

Business at Village Tattoo is so bad, says one employee, that the store might have to close its doors after 15 years.

Jason Smith, an employee at First Rich Gift Shop across the street tells The Local that revenue so far this December is less than half of what it was at the same time last year.

Vendors say the stores traditionally do well around the holidays and they hope that a break in the weather will bring shoppers into the streets – and maybe even motivate them to spend.

NYU Journalism’s Liz Wagner reports.