Monday, February 1, 2010

Aphrodisia Herbs

VANISHED

The Aphrodisia Herb Shoppe has been in Greenwich Village since 1969. Yesterday it shuttered.



Owner Joann Pelletiere, who had worked in the shop since the 1970s, reported 1/11 on her Facebook page, "Unfortunately I am being forced to close the store on Bleecker Street at the end of January, after 35 years. Thank you for all your support and please stay in touch online."


photo: Philliecasablanca's flickr

This comes soon after BookBook, formerly Biography, became their neighbor. It seemed like a good pairing--herb shop and book shop.

New York describes Aphrodisia as "a kind of mid-century precursor to Diagon Alley, where Harry Potter and pals might find essential ingredients for a class on the Dark Arts. There are enough culinary and medicinal herbs, curative teas, exotic spices, and vitamin supplements here to fill a shaman’s charm chest, an herbalist's apothecary, and a chef's pantry."

Cool in Your Code interviewed Ms. Pelletiere on film, who remarked, "We have generations coming in, children of children coming in."


New York Magazine

The shop was also known for its cats, who lolled in the window on sunny mornings and were written up in The Villager: "The cats are a part of the store," Pelletiere said. "If people don’t see them in the window they’re very concerned. It’s neighborhood lore." But the cats will now be gone from the window, as another small, feline-friendly business is pushed out of the city.


my flickr

Thanks to Stef for the tip and the photo of the goodbye sign, as well as the following:

"It was always an oasis of calm in the shop, so different from much of the mostly gentrified, tourist-choked and less-authentic neighborhood surrounding it. I chatted with Joanne a bit and she said her rent is going up from $9,000 to $18,000. She said she hoped she could find another spot and continue."

Post-Script: Maybe Joann can move into the Angelica's space--which is still closed.

20 comments:

Tricia said...

This makes me very sad. I've been going to Aphrodisia for decades. When I lived in Japan, I kept in touch via mail order ordering stuff I couldn't get anywhere else like High John the Conqueror. This stretch of Bleecker has lost its magic...

Betty said...

awful. the sex&thecitification of Bleecker Street. the fragrance of ambrosia will linger, braided in with Zito's fresh-baked "scalide" bread. alas. gratitudes for all the years, the potted plants and the human touch.

Goggla said...

Oh, no! This was a wonderful store...I loved going in there and I can't think of another like it. And the cats were the best part of the experience. Sad.

Bowery Boogie said...

i shook the magic 8 ball while asking, will another marc jacobs move in?

answer: signs point to yes.

Roberta said...

Damn.

The Muttropolitan Diarist said...

Am I missing something? With so many stores closing landlords can really afford to hike rents like this? Maddening, this greed.

Jeremiah Moss said...

true. $18,000 seems like a lot to ask in this climate, especially with so many empty storefronts.

that Dunkin Donuts in the EV just turned into a bodega and pizza joint, so there is hope. maybe she can come east--after all, the EV lost two herb shops, Penny's and Angelica's.

Anonymous said...

Bleecker Street is beginning to look like a ghost town. The store that used to be Zitos has never been leased and the old Murray's Cheese Shop has no tenant since Murray's crossed the street.

Anonymous said...

We are so very sorry to see her go. I will miss the wonderful one-of-a-kind treasures, the herbs and the sleeping kitties in the window...another Bleecker Street institution that will leave yet another big hole in our neighborhood and our hearts. Let's hope she finds a new home soon!

Thanks Joanne for all the wonderful years!

chris flash said...

There are a combination of factors at work here: on one hand, the city, taking advantage of an artificially-inflated real estate market, increases assessed values of properties and jacks up real estate taxes on small property owners, who are then forced to increase commercial rents in order to make up for their additional overhead.

On the other hand, regardless of their overhead costs, most landlords are GREEDY. Losing perspective due to the double digit rents being paid by fashion chains and corporate interlopers in the West Village, Bleecker Street landlords are trying to take advantage of the artificially-inflated rental market.

What ends up happening, as always, is that those venues that make the West Village special become extinct, and the landlords have empty storefronts for years, unable to get those insane rents, and they sometimes lose their buildings.

These asses are so blinded by the false spectre of real estate wealth that they lose good, long-term stable tenants that have become a part of the fabric of their neighborhoods. This ultimately makes the landlord's property LESS desirable, all-the-more-so the longer their storefronts remain unoccupied.

They just don't get it....

Muttropolitan Diarist said...

Flash: yes, nicely put but is the real estate market still inflated? Or is this impression just another symptom of being blinded by greed? Because I keep reading about falling prices -- although of course this is Manhattan where nothing has been in fact affordable for decades...

Adam said...

oh, how aweful, i used to work around the corner at a very popular bar, "employees only." Aphrodesia was our exclusive purveyor for the lavender we would infuse our gin with, likewise with the herbs d' Provence we would infuse our vermouth.

Does anyone have any similar stories of uses derived from the contents of this old world purveyor?

Anonymous said...

Welcome to New York, the most boring city in the world. If everybody got off their cellphones long enough to look at anything(or anyone) they might actually notice some of the last treasures that made the city special.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear of the closing of yet another wonderful store in Greenwich Village. I enjoyed making special trips from Princeton, NJ just to visit Aphrodisia. I wish the Owners all the best as they begin a new page in their life's journey. Thank you for giving so generously of your time and talents for nearly 40 years. Bleecker Street will not be the same without you.

ali said...

I am so sad to read this! Aphrodisia was one of my absolute favorite places in the city. I can't believe it's gone now :(

Penelope said...

Absolutely heartbreaking - the city I grew up is is becoming a sterile, soulless enclave. I'll miss Aphrodesia (and Olivia) for my White Sage and other goodies. Hope they find another space soon.

Anonymous said...

I went there yesterday to get ask about herbs for a homemade tincture only to find in shuttered! Another stupid, greedy move where the landlord obviously did not consider the long term ramifications. The feel of the Village has changed so much sometimes I wish I would've moved to Brooklyn. Oh wait! Brooklyn is following the same exact real estate pattern ...

Anonymous said...

Maybe they can open a big neon Chase bank so that all the wanna-be eccentrics can make quick withdrawals from their trust funds.

I said...

Dear Ms. Pelletiere,

I shopped in Aphrodisia from the early 1970s onward,
learning about herbs, medicinal and otherwise, through
my nose first.

One day while in your shoppe you were playing the music of an early "crooner" who sounded quite original and pre Crosby and Sinatra. You said it was Jimmy Durante.
I have been looking for this recording.
If you read this, I would greatly appreciate it if you would post the title of the cd.
Great good luck with your new location!

Anonymous said...

Just happening upon this news - how heartbreaking. I enjoyed my years in NYC (1997-2008), but saw so many wonderful, unique people and business get priced out of the city... the place has lost so much character, and only continues to do so. Aphrodisia was an absolute blessing, not just a beautiful shop, but a place to quiet down, learn and heal. Discovering that it has also fallen victim to the destructive climate of NYC is terribly saddening.

I wish all the luck and hope in the world to Joanne and the kitties - will be following you on Facebook, wishing to see that you've found a new home for your exquisite offerings.