Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Leo Design

VANISHING

Back in 2010, after 15 years on Bleecker Street, Leo Design gifts closed shop. Their goodbye sign at the time said, "We're being turned out." This was in the middle of the luxury blitz that decimated the western end of Bleecker, turning the quiet and eclectic local street into a homogenized suburban shopping mall for the very rich.

Leo Design moved to Hudson Street. And now it's closing again.



Their goodbye sign this time around is longer--and more heartbreaking. The core of the letter gets right to the core of the problem in the new New York. Owner Kimo Jung writes:

"Long-time neighbors in The Village will remember when we opened 22 years ago. What a different place this was! Mom & Pop shops were the rule, not the exception. One-of-a-kind shops lined the streets—and shoppers could find odd and wonderful delights unavailable in any suburban shopping mall. The Internet was something new and Simon & Garfunkel sang that 'thirty dollars pays your rent on Bleecker Street.'

What happened? Well, the neighborhood changed—some change for the better, some change for the worse. I miss the Village’s alternative, Bohemian character. And I miss the people who used to be able to afford to live in Greenwich Village—especially the young artists.

Don’t get me wrong: I have had (and continue to have) wonderfully supportive customers. I’m brimming with tears of gratitude as I write this sentence. But as my rent (and every other expense) increases, it’s hard to rely on the same devoted core of supporters to keep spending more and more.

Take a look around: there are very few small shops left. I guess it’s always been just a matter of time."



January 31 will be the last day--and they're having a 25% off sale. Leo Design will keep operating online, according to Jung's note, until a new space somewhere appears.






5 comments:

  1. Before Leo Design moved to Bleecker, it was on Jane Street in the space now occupied by indie coffee shop Grounded.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's undeniable - the Village is not even a cartoon version of what it was from 1900-1970. It's just one big chain boutique now, serving the upper-upper-middle-class who decided long ago to take over every neighborhood except Spanish Harlem.

    ReplyDelete
  3. From a fellow merchant still hanging on opposite Leo Designs, we love you and we'll miss you as we are all swallowed by fake luxury.
    Love
    The End of History, 548 1/2 Hudson Street

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Jeremiah, for noticing. My hope (for you and other "media-smiths") is that small, Mom & Pop shops will get this kind of attention before they reach the ends of their ropes. Thanks for shining a little light. Kimo (LEO Design)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Another thing about West 28th Street west of the High Line, it is in the FEMA flood zone map as moderate to high risk of flooding and requires that those getting federal mortgages to buy flood insurance. Much of West Chelsea is in a flood zone, maybe that is why there was not much residential building there before. Hudson Yards above West 30th Street is almost all in the high risk flood zone.

    ReplyDelete

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