Liberty House, at 112th and Broadway, is vanishing after 49 years in business. And it's no ordinary local shop.
photo: Jed Egan, New York magazine
It is the last of its kind, a small chain of New York shops first organized in 1965 by Abbie Hoffman and other civil rights workers in Mississippi to sell goods made by poor women of color, with the profits going back to the original communities, and to support the Civil Rights Movement.
I talked to co-owner Martha who told me the shop will shutter at the end of April. They'll be having a sale until then, from 20% to 50% off.
This time, it's not the rent. "People aren't shopping," Martha said. "They're going online. It's convenient. They tell me, 'I can sit at home and shop in my pajamas.' But people have to shop local or else there won't be any stores anymore."
photo via Liberty House Facebook page
The second-to-last Liberty House shuttered in 2007, also on the Upper West Side. It was a victim of rising rents.
Back then, a customer told the Times,
“I don’t know how you stop these people. They’re throwing everyone out
right and left, and it’s going to be a neighborhood of Duane Reades and
Godiva chocolates. This store should have made it.”
one of the shop's partners, “The diversity of people, both incomes and
interests, has lessened and we have more of what we used to call
upwardly mobile people, who shop online or drive to malls, or get in
cabs and go to Barneys.”
At this last Liberty House, Martha asks everyone to go up, buy something, and say goodbye to this piece of New York's history, a shop dedicated to liberation and economic justice--something we need now more than ever. They say farewell on their Facebook page: