As first reported by Gothamist and Runnin Scared, the Village Paper party store on Greenwich Avenue has burned down.
Witnesses recall a loud explosion in the morning before the shop opened. Two firefighters were injured fighting the blaze that gutted the entire shop and shuttered a neighboring store.
The owner, Sun Wong, told the Daily News: "I worked so hard for this store, for my family. I'm so sad right now. I have three little ones. What am I going to do now? I feel sick about it. I don't know what I'm going to do next. We all depend on this store, it's our whole life."
An employee told the Post that "the store’s destruction was a great loss for the neighborhood."
By the afternoon, the sidewalk was littered with debris, a sickening carnivalesque mix of charred black destruction and colorful Mardi-Gras celebration.
Animal masks and glittering party masks, disco balls, sequined decorations, strings of purple beads, and racks of greeting cards sat piled in fetid-smelling tatters.
As the snowfall intensified, a white blanket covered it all, draped like the pale sheet police officers use to cover dead bodies on the sidewalk.
Village Paper moved here at least 20 years ago. Many will recall that Sutter's Bakery used to stand in this spot, next door to the original offices of The Village Voice. Villagers loved Sutter's and many writers partook of its delicacies.
In the Villager, Patricia Fieldsteel remembered, "it was possible to sit for hours over a cup of coffee and what was known in those days as a 'Danish pastry.' There were no lattes, grandes, mochachinos or even cappuccinos--just plain old coffee for 20 cents a cup with free refills."
In her book Garlic and Sapphires, Ruth Reichl recalls visiting Sutter's when the Women's House of Detention loomed just overhead:
It is very difficult to find a photo of Sutter's. In all my searching, I've only found one, taken by the wonderful photographer Robert Otter in 1964. There it is on the left, across from the "House of D."
photo by Robert Otter
Sutter's closed on May 23, 1976, after exactly 50 years in business. The New York Times reported that the closure was due to "a sharp increase in rent...from $40,000 to $60,000 a year." In addition, the landlord was asking for a $50,000 fee for a new lease. The owners, twin sisters Helen Mulcahey and Marie Kammenzind, daughters of Sutter, could not swing it.
The New Yorker's Talk of the Town was on the scene the day of the auction:
Yesterday, people were staring through the same big windows, estimating the damage, sizing up the destruction, wondering when and if Village Paper will reopen. By day's end, the windows were boarded shut.
It was, like Sutter's, a beloved neighborhood place. I bought my greeting cards there and the occasional Halloween disguise. I always enjoyed their window displays, filled with holiday chaos and kookiness (like their annual Zagat bursting from a corpse's stomach display). I hope they come back soon.
See all photos of Village Paper