At 178 Bleecker, between 6th Ave and Sullivan St, Magic Shoes has been selling hard-to-find, rare, and discontinued footwear since 1979. A favorite among Converse aficionados, they were also voted "Best place to buy '70s librarian shoes" by the Voice.
Now their rent has skyrocketed and they will close in April. Everything is on major sale: 80% off and more. The owner, Tina Wu, a smiling, gregarious woman, hopes to sell everything out by the end of March.
As she punched out price tags on her tagging gun (reducing a pair of gold pumps from $60 to $10), Ms. Wu told me how her parents opened the store after they came to America from Taiwan and graduated from NYU. Now, with a tremendous rent increase which she did not disclose, the family business will be gone. "Nothing can afford to be here but a big chain," she said, "like a Banana Republic or something. No more mom and pops in this city. In another five years, it will be nothing but chains."
She remembers when, "If you wanted shoes, you went to 8th Street. Now, 8th Street is dead. After 6:00 at night--forget it. It's dead."
And so it goes in our dying city.
If you want Converse high tops in any color, skater shoes, cowboy boots, green fuzzy slippers, and much more, go to Magic Shoes, open every day from noon to 8pm. They have a lot of stock to get rid of, a back room filled with shoe boxes. But don't bother if you've got big feet--Tina doesn't want you to waste your time coming down when she's only got small sizes left.
Follow up: This shop was shuttered and the building demolished in 2009.