A year ago, I broke the news that Jim's Shoe Repair was being kicked out of its space on E. 59th Street, where it's been since 1932. Landlord S.L. Green gave the space to Walgreens so they could expand their giant Duane Reade.
News spread, we started a petition and wrote letters, and Jim's got help from the powerful law firm Bickel and Brewer, whose Storefront affiliate gives help to community individuals and businesses in need. Now there's good news.
Third-generation Joe Rocco told me, "Duane Reade has agreed to give us the lease back," and it's good for several more years.
A year ago, Joe and his family thought it was over. They were looking for a new space. But today, "We're all excited. The combination of our loyal customers all staying behind us, and the help from Bickel and Brewer made it happen."
"Hopefully, it starts something," says Joe. "Hopefully, people in this city will see that these old places are valuable and worth saving."
There will be a celebration in the shoe repair shop today at 2:00. (The local news has video.)
From the full press release:
For one of New York City’s most cherished businesses and thousands of its customers, there is much to celebrate in the New Year.
Jim’s Shoe Repair announced today that it has signed a new lease agreement and will remain in business at its current location at 50 E. 59th Street. The family-owned cobbling business has been at its current location since 1940, but was only weeks away from losing its space and having to vacate the premises.
An in-store celebration is planned for 2 p.m. today.
“Words cannot describe what it means for a small business like ours to defy the odds – and be able to stay in the location we’ve called home for over 70 years,” said Joseph Rocco, Jr. “We are grateful to our attorneys, Duane Reade, Borough President Gale Brewer, SL Green, and the thousands of people who voiced their support of our business. All worked together to make this miracle possible.”
Jim’s fight for survival has become one of the most closely-followed cases of its kind – emblematic of the struggle faced by small businesses swept away in the “corporatization” of New York City. It has been widely reported that Jim’s was losing its 1,000 square-foot shop to accommodate the expansion of Duane Reade, located next door.
The Bickel & Brewer Storefront, the community-service affiliate of Bickel & Brewer law firm, represented Jim’s in the courtroom, pro bono, and engineered a grassroots petition drive to help save the business. The Storefront sought a landmark designation for Jim’s, and filed a petition in Manhattan Supreme Court on behalf of the business against the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Storefront also defended Jim’s in eviction proceedings. Jim’s and its landlord, SL Green Realty Corp., have settled all claims as a condition of the new lease agreement. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Jim’s is a business that embodies the American Dream,” says William A. Brewer III, partner at the Storefront and long-time Jim’s customer. “The victory today is for all those who value family-owned businesses in this country. They represent a time when the fabric of our communities were tied to family values.”
“This is a storybook ending for our customers and a business that runs in our blood,” says [Rocco's great-grandson] Andrew. “It feels like we are part of something larger here, giving hope to small businesses in this community and throughout all of New York City. We have achieved the impossible.”
Jim's Shoe Repair
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