For over 25 years, Alan's Alley Video store has been a beloved neighborhood staple in Chelsea. Now, a reader sends in word of a FOR LEASE sign in the window.
In 2011, the Real Deal
reported that Alan's was "hanging on by a thread," struggling to pay
the $12,000 monthly rent. It looks like the thread has finally snapped,
thanks to a combination of changing technology and the prospect of bigger rent.
I talked to Alan Sklar, who opened the business in 1988. He told me, "We don't have any plans to close. We go with the flow. But the landlord's got plans. He's looking for a new tenant."
Alan says the store will stay in business for several more months, with no specific closing date. Once the landlord finds a new tenant, however, that will be the end. Winick has the listing, calling the space "Previously Alan's Alley Video," even though it's still Alan's Alley, and noting the nearby selling points, a bunch of chains and the High Line, all that Chelsea has been reduced to.
"It's been a nice 25 years," said Alan. He doesn't expect he'll be able to find any place in the city with affordable rent.
From 2011 - 2012, filmmaker Max Tannone made a documentary about Alan's, called "There Were Always Dogs, Never Kids." In the film, Alan tells the story of his shop, his shop cats, and the days when the neighborhood was still an eclectic mix of different types of people, including a large gay population. (The shop still carries four copies of Cabaret.)
Just last year, the New York Times did a feature on Alan's. At the time, "Mr. Sklar mused on what it felt like to be the last man standing. 'Almost from the day we opened, I felt we were going to get phased out by technology,' he said. But the store pays its bills, he said, and he feels lucky to have run it without compromise for so long.
'Until the writing’s on the wall, it’s hard to walk away,' he said. 'In a way, we’ve never had long-term plans.'"