Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mxyplyzyk

VANISHED

Opened on Greenwich Avenue in 1992, the designy gift shop Mxyplyzyk has closed.

Reader Tommy Raiko wrote in with a photo, "I walked by and saw the place entirely vacant, with a good-bye sign taped to the windows." In the sign, owner Kevin Brynan writes, "For 20 years we maintained a vision that has set us apart... We sincerely loved being a part of this community and we will miss this corner." There is no explanation for the closure.


photo: Tommy Raiko

I sent an email to Mr. Brynan to ask what happened. He responded:

"After 20 years running an independent store in Manhattan, it just became impossible. With the closing of St. Vincent’s 2 years ago (the largest employer in the West Village), this incredible recession, and tenants being responsible for real estate taxes, I was just forced out. It is quite clear the current city administration prefers chain stores over the 'mom and pops' with their tax abatements. This island is destined to have a very boring retail landscape. All the creative entities are in Brooklyn or Jersey City where I have my second store."


photo: New York Magazine

Kevin Brynan has been doing business in Manhattan for quite awhile. His first store, reported The Jersey City Independent, was "Dot Zero, opened in 1984 on Fifth Avenue at 22nd Street. At the time the neighborhood was unsavory."

The New York Times' description of the scene at Dot Zero in 1991 is too colorful not to quote at length:

"A young Asian couple in Mondrian-patterned sweaters and plastic knapsacks picked over Dot Zero's ultra-selective inventory. This is a store that sells only six magazines, three of them with River Phoenix on the current covers. Dot Zero is very much about yin and yang, and makes an obvious attempt to balance architect toys like Slinkys ($3.25) and Decision Makers ($9.95) with earthier wares like barbecue sauce ($7.50) and banana shampoo ($9.95).

Almost every customer at Dot Zero wears a Swatch. It's that kind of place. One woman in a long camel's hair cape knew only that it was time to rest her mall-weary eyes. With a little chirp of pleasure she seized upon a pair of vibrating Eye Massager goggles by Travel Tech ($17.95). Adjusting the Velcro strap around her bobbed white hair, she flicked a tiny switch at the nose bridge and flew madly about the store, exclaiming, 'Isn't this just the thing!'"


Brynan & Cleary, Jersey City Independent

When Brynan moved to Greenwich and 13th, he named his new shop after a foe of Superman. Last year, with his partner, Bill Cleary, he opened another location of Mxyplyzyk in Jersey City, where the rent is significantly cheaper than on the rapidly changing Greenwich Avenue.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very sad to hear this, I have been going to this store for over ten years and I have always found something new in there with each visit. I wish Kevin and staff much luck in the future.

John M said...

Sad. I thought this was one of the survivors after all this time. Should have known better.

abrod said...

To think, stores that catered to Swatch wearers used to be celebrated...

John K said...

I'll say this: the gentleman who owns the store has never been particularly friendly or polite towards me, either when I go to the store on Greenwich or the one on Grove St. in Jersey City. I am not sure what the issue is, but that's been my experience. Having said that, I am sorry to see the Greenwich store close. In the 1980s and well into the 1990s, that strip of stores used to be a little revelation after you crossed 7th Ave heading west. There were all kinds of little quirky spots, and then you got to 8th Ave in Chelsea heading north, with its particular kinds of stores, or Hudson, which then was still a vibrantly distinctive strip as well. Now only 8th Ave from 14th St. north retains any of its flavor. Hudson and Greenwich are increasingly being turned into neo-suburbia.... Please don't bring any more of this horrible gentrification across the river to Jersey City!

JAZ said...

I bought my Writersblok graphed notebooks there - as far as I know they were the only store in Manhattan to carry them in the size I needed.

I guess that's the theme in the new NYC; more sameness = less variety, but the people left will be the ones that don't want or need variety; if Staples, 7-11, or Starbucks doesn't carry it, then you're not supposed to need it.

RIP - another good one bites the dust.

James C. Taylor said...

Aww, I was just looking for that place a couple of weeks ago and couldn't find it. Maybe it had already closed. They had some fun stuff in there. Big shame.

Caleo said...

And so the story goes. One more closure, every day of every week, until Manhattan will be just as the gentleman stated, " A very boring retail landscape".
At this point I honestly believe the bulk of Manhattan is going to be a permanent loss. The tidal wave of gentrification and suburbanization is relentless.
Dubai on the Hudson is quickly being realized, with no respite in sight.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure nothing can match how the owner feels but I think we all share in the grief to some extent as we witness our communities changing for the worse. On that note, I can't help but feel that we may all be culpable in some way and wonder what responsibility do we bear to patronize businesses that add to the flavor and community rather than detract the way a chain store would.

Little Earthquake said...

It isn't vanished, it's in the 5th Dimension. Someone tricked them into saying the name backwards.

Goggla said...

Dammit, this used to be my street for buying gifts. Now all those shops are gone. The loss of St Vincent's will only become more apparent as time goes on.

Anonymous said...

It's happening all though the city and not just to retail establishments. I run a small mixing and music studio that caters to the downtown/avant garde film and music world. I have had my studio here for 12 years, had lots of success,and worked in other studios for 10 before that. The building I am in is slated for demolition to build more condos, and it won't make sense for me to build again-- the numbers just don't work. So, once the building comes down, I will leave the city for sunnier climes... I am not alone, lots of creative folk are fleeing- not only for financial reasons but also, really, there is less and less here to inspire....

Marty Wombacher said...

Another place I won't be able to visit on my return trip to the city next summer.

Anonymous said...

Tenants are responsible for the real estate taxes? The landlords' real estate taxes? Oh, some cohones, Bloomberg and his pals.

BRAINIMPLANT said...

I've been meaning to do this for months, but there is an older Village Voice cover from sometime (my memory's not as good) ago, after 2001 I think, which had a cartoon of a guy standing on Broadway, and every shop was either a CVS/Reade/Chase...etc...etc... I think the cover artist was Ted Rall or Tom Tomorrow but I can't remember. I 've been meaning to go to the 42nd st. Library to dig it up, since the Voice's online archives seem to intentionally suck. I'll send it over if I get to it first, but if someone else has easy access...I'd love to see it again. Captures almost everything that has happened in the city over the past 20 years.

Brendan said...

Re: 8:32

Commercial leases can say just about anything. Commercial tenants to not enjoy the legal protections that residential tenants (at least in theory) do. As far as I know this has always been the case. It is probably good policy for large, sophisticated tenants, who should be allowed to agree to whatever they want, but not so great policy for mom and pops, which are basically at the mercy of landlords.

glamma said...

oh maaaaaan i am so sorry to read this! this was the *only* place i would go when i had to buy a children's gift (and many times, an adult's gift as well).
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO to Bloomberg's New York....
And thanks to the owners for explaining how subsidies and tax codes are designed to help the rich corporate chains, rather than our beloved, hard working mom & pops!!! Just disgraceful.

glamma said...

I remember when St Vincents closed some stat came out that it would cost like 1/1000 of bloomberg's money to keep it open. it really was not very much that was needed. this was where EVERYONE went after 9/11. that it was let go lightly was a BAD sign. i seriously think this administration hates actual residents, we are a thorn in their side. they want it to be like disneyland where no one actually lives here, people just come to bleed money on cr@p that makes them feel "achieved" or whatever mindless brainwash they're motivated by, and the rich corporations and politicians on their payrolls laugh all the wya to the bank. that all of our social programs, schools, hospitals and institutions are being systematically SLASHED is NOT merely a result of our budget "issues," lack of funds or political bumbling. i truly feel there is a very powerful agenda at work to make us feel that we simply have no right to any kind of basic resources or reasonable way of live. the amount of money spent on social programming and psychological triggers by corporations and big hybrid research groups is simply staggering. it is big business and i truly fear the extent to which there are forces at work to make us as disempowered as humanly possible. sorry i know this is a little morbid, especially in a post about the closing of a toy store. but everytime i thin kabout st vincents and that whole domino effect i just get so mad. don't ever underestimate the plams of the rich and powerful. we all need to stay conscious, and, one step ahead.

Anonymous said...

I've been going to this neighborhood store since it opened. It's always been a joy to check in and see what new weird things they had. I shopped there but probably not enough.
Just walked by tonight and saw the windows bare and immediately googled the store to find out what happened. I'm truly sorry. Yes, another wonderful neighborhood landmark bites the dust. Thanks a lot Mayor Bloomberg, for driving the mom and pop stores with individuality out of Manhattan.

AnneTD said...

There was a wonderful designer and partner at Myzyplyzk, Peter Maase, who died in the 90s. He encouraged me to buy a silk scarf 20 years ago. Only the other day, I wore that scarf and received many compliments. To each person, I said, "Go to Myzyplyzk. It's got great stuff." The closing is such sadness, and a scandal that the Bloomberg administration and real estate greed has enabled.

Belema said...

I bought my Marilyn Monroe glass chopping board,salt and pepper shaker on legs, mountable fish bowl, my first Method dishwashing soap with the cute hour glass shape container,grocery bag holder bag convert to wastebin stand,my multiple post-it sticky/note holder,my door hanger to do list,my suction tooth brush holder etc etc etc Ill miss this store most certainly but ofcourse Ill head over to the Jersey City store most definately !!!