Remember the Alamo, Rizzoli Bookstore, and Jim’s Shoe Repair

Rizzoli Bookstore is still expected to close and Subway Inn was shuttered, but Jim’s Shoe Repair at 50 E. 59th has been given a new lease!!

See Present in the City blog of Feb. 17, 2015 for details as well as this fine ABC News New York story with an appearance by me.

Here’s the original post on the subject from May 2, 2014:

Jim’s Shoe Repair on Manhattan’s at 50 East 59th Street has been in business for 82 years. Now the adjacent Duane Reade chain wants its space, reportedly so it can sell frozen foods. Duane Reade, which Walgreen purchased in 2010 for $618 million dollars, is forcing the family-owned artisanal service to shut its doors.

Now is the time and here is the place for New Yorkers to take a stand if they are alarmed by seeing productive businesses destroyed by the combination of out-of-control generic big box stores, New York real estate interests, and the complicit Giuliani and Bloomberg Administrations. Maybe Jim’s Shoe Repair Store can be the place where the de Blasio Administration steps in to help small businesses and preserve what is left of commercial diversity in Manhattan. Surely small businesses are as worthy of salvation as carriage horses, even if their supporters are less organized.

Without a public outcry against Duane Reade and Walgreen ($72 billion in sales in fiscal 2013) and landlord SL Green Realty, Jim’s Shoe Repair will join the famed Rizzoli’s Bookstore, and the less iconic Nemati rug and tapestry store on Third Avenue and Vacesi Hardware on East 23rd, along with hundreds of other successful or promising small businesses that have been victims of predatory real estate interests.

Two Duane Reades, two Walgreens and a CVS all operate in a 1.5 block radius of my apartment, and most Manhattanites below 96th Street can say much the same of these interchangeable outlets. We do not need more of them and we do not need them to be bigger than they are. They should not gobble up more space and they should not destroy more productive businesses. Jim’s is trying to get redress through the Landmarks Commission, which ignored it in the past, but here’s a plan for the rest of us:

  1. Patronize Jim’s Shoe Repair at 50 East 59th Street near the Fifth Avenue N,R,Q subway. This support will help it to pay its legal bills to fight these greedy businesses that prey on the spirit of New York. In addition, you will also see what expert shoe repair looks like.

  2. Sign an electronic petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-jims-shoe-repair   or this site.

  3. Phone Customer Relations at Duane Reade (and why is this office not in New York City where it could hire the city residents who patronize these stores?)
    Here are two numbers – 800-925-4733, which I obtained from a company source, and 866-375-6925, which is on the website. Provide Jim’s address – 50 East 59th Street — and 625 Madison Avenue, the address of the building that houses it and the rapacious Duane Reade that is gobbling up its business.

  4. Phone Walgreen at 800-925-4733

  5. Call SL Green Realty, ask for the leasing agent of 625 Madison Avenue, and tell them that they should renew Jim’s lease. They will give you a polite runaround. Probably SL Green thrives on bad will, but perhaps it would like to generate good publicity by doing something decent.

  6. Contact REBNY – the Real Estate Board of New York. Its website says that questions about the commercial Brokerage Division should be directed to Desiree Jones at (212) 616-5226 or djones@rebny.com

Taking these actions would be constructive use of smartphones. On a personal note, without Jim’s to repair my shoes, I may have to use them less. Certainly if Walgreen and Duane Reade takes Jim’s down, I will never again walk into one of these outfits again. Drugstore.com* is looking good – and it sells cheaper branded contact lens solution too.

*Correction: In a demonstration of the importance of a family business, after this blog was posted my nephew David, a business grad student, informed me that drugstore.com is owned by Walgreen. One of us has made me proud.

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5 thoughts on “Remember the Alamo, Rizzoli Bookstore, and Jim’s Shoe Repair

  1. This is happening all over the city. In the past year, I’ve seen several of my favorite eateries lose their lease — Jack’s on University Place, Rickshaw dumplings on west 23 St, and Whym on 9th Ave at 58th. Small hardware and houseware gems—e.g. Surprise on Third Ave and 13th St.—are disappearing; we’re left to shop at generic big box chains. It makes me wonder what will go next that makes the city unique. The culture? Tickets are already priced too high for most New Yorkers. The dance studios? They’re a low end business and at least three are reputedly in trouble because of landlords’ demands for extravagant raises in rents. The beauty? Look at St. John’s the Divine, about to be hemmed in by condos. It’s a crying shame.

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  2. Here in Toronto, we are seeing the same sad thing. Small, colorful, individual businesses are being swallowed up by huge condo towers with commercial suites on the first five floors. You can bet that not one of these “commercial suites” will be affordable by any sort of small business. What a tragedy that the real streetscape of the finest cities is being destroyed in the name of falsely constructed ones.

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