Tom Birchard, owner of Veselka, sent in the news that Jan Sun Laundry on 17th Street and Irving Place is closing after 45 years in business.
Tom writes: "I moved to this street from the East Village eleven years ago and starting taking my shirts there. The gentleman who owns the business told me that when he immigrated here with his parents from Hong Kong the former residents of my brownstone took him under their wing and helped him acclimate to life in the US. They took him to the beach in the summer and helped him learn English. He eventually took over the laundry business and has been running it with his wife ever since. I know that New York is constantly changing but sometimes the loss of these neighborhood stores that make up the fabric of our daily lives really hurts. They will be gone at the end of the month."
I talked to the owner's wife. She told me they decided to retire, after so many years of laundering, to travel and spend time with grandchildren. She also told me about the wonderful sign in the window, which I've admired each time I've walked by.
The sign shows two men meeting on the street. One asks, "Sir, can you tell me where is the laundry that does good work?" And the other responds, "Why sure. Go to the Jan Sun Laundry. All work there is satisfactory."
The sign dates back to the 1940s, when it hung in the first Jan Sun over on Third Avenue. It came to the new place in the 1960s and has been here ever since, touched up to keep it fresh over the years.
I'll miss seeing that sign. Jan Sun is part of a quiet, almost untouched block of mom and pops--a barber shop, a shoe repair place, and a junk shop that recently closed. The lady at Jan Sun told me how the neighborhood has changed dramatically over the years, and how sad it's been to watch her old neighbors--all customers and friends--pass away.
"Now it's all young people," she said. "They're so busy, always on their phones, too busy to make friends."