Back in May I went over to the Magic Shoe Repair shop on Carmine Street when a reader told me they had been evicted. The owner asked me not to share that information just yet, as he was still hoping to negotiate a new lease with the landlord. So I waited. But I guess it didn't work out. After 20 years in business, the place is gone and gutted.
That's one Carmine survivor down, and one less place for New Yorkers to get their shoes fixed.
I always liked the shop for its fascinating window filled with wristwatches. In addition to fixing shoes, Magic Shoe Repair also fixed timepieces.
The building sold or is for sale, and the cobbler and his neighbor were put out so the landlord could combine the two storefronts into one. The whole building is shrouded for renovation and the landlord has an application in with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to make the alterations.
Richard Lourie wrote about the place in the New York Times, back in 2002:
"Carmine Street is in many ways exceptional, even eccentric... It is a real Greenwich Village street, not one tarted up for
tourists. This is a difference that might be defined as that between a
street with shoe stores and a street with only a cobbler. The cobbler of
Carmine Street is Misha or Mike, depending on which nickname you
prefer, who is from Odessa, Russia's Brooklyn. A stream of émigrés from
the former Soviet Union have passed through Magic Shoe Repair, shining
shoes, working their way into America with a rag, polish and hungry
energy. Like all Odessans, everything reminds Misha of a joke. But he
transplants not only jokes from Russia, but tomatoes as well, and he
becomes suddenly rapt and poetic as he describes their skin -- delicate,
pale red -- the juicy plumpness within."
When I talked to the cobbler in May, I asked him if he thought IHOP was the reason for the rents going up--as predicted by the realtor who said that Carmine "was a dumpy street. Now it's top-notch," thanks to the pancake chain. The cobbler did not agree.
"IHOP? IHOP brings the rent down," he said in a Russian accent. "Do you see the people who go in that place? I wouldn't want IHOP in my neighborhood. All those idiot fucking guys with their big idiot cars outside, hanging around. And the fucking pancakes? With the fucking maple syrup? Ach."
While he did not want IHOP in his neighborhood, the cobbler was considering the possibility of opening an IHOP franchise of his own. "Change is good," he said. Besides, he wasn't always a cobbler. He had many other jobs. Fixing shoes and clocks wasn't his dream.
"I'm open to becoming something new."
Lost on Carmine
Carmine Street Comics