With the news that Love Saves the Day will be leaving the East Village, and the city, I went to talk with Karen, the vendor who's been selling her wares on the sidewalk in front of the shop for the past few years.
An old-school flea marketeer, her tables are laden with items ranging from the sublime (a white, bejeweled prom gown; vintage framed photos of breeders with their champion dogs; a giant mid-century Santa) to the merely utilitarian (a few coffee mugs, a phone handset without a cradle, a tennis racket). In the bustle of midday, people stop and browse. A girl buys a sweater off the rack and, hearing Karen's price, says, "That is totally fair."
"I keep my prices low," Karen told me, "because a lot of people around here are kids, and they don't have much money. And people donate stuff to me. So I recycle it back through the neighborhood."
One donation she received came from a woman pushing a walker. The woman stopped and, without a word, handed a plastic bag to Karen. Inside was a homemade sandwich and a can of Coke.
"Where else are you gonna find people like this? People who bring you sandwiches," Karen said. She loves being on this corner and does not want to leave the East Village, where she was brought by Leslie Herson, the former owner of Love Saves the Day who passed away this summer.
"Leslie was one of the last of the original flower children," Karen told me. She met Leslie through the flea market circles in New Jersey. "She invited me to come to New York. New York! That was always my dream. So I followed her here and I've been here since. Leslie was good to me."
I asked Karen what she thought about the loss of Love Saves the Day.
"This is one of the last places that has the old flair of the East Village that's gone. It's not like it was in the 50s and 60s, that old bohemian and hippie life. It's missed. And I'm one of the last ones out here, selling on the sidewalks, which used to be full of people selling stuff. So I guess I'll be missed, too."
Karen will be missed. But she's looking for a new place to set up. If you have a storefront, or know of one, that can accommodate Karen, she asks that you get in touch. You can leave your information here in the comments section or send it to me by email and I will pass it on. You can also find Karen at the corner of 7th and 2nd every Friday - Sunday. At least for the next few weeks, until Love is gone.
See all my photos of Karen's "shop" and LSD