Have any tips on where the owner might be or memories related to this shop? Please drop me a line.
In the space where the Novelty Shop used to be, today sits Gaby's Barber Shop, Inc., which opened its doors a few years ago. The owner, Gaby, comes from a small village in Uzbekistan. It was a cold morning in January when I stopped by. George, Gaby’s son, was there filling in for his dad who was away on vacation. The youngest of four kids, George recalled how the family arrived in New York on March 8th, 1995. It was a snowy day. Although he was only four years old at the time, George remembers that clearly. It was the first time he had seen snow.
If this shop had a name, I do not know what it was called. I simply dubbed it the "Novelty Shop" based on the way it appears in Gerry's illustration. And as I understand, from talking to neighboring shops, it was not so much a store as an eclectic collection of goods, more like a trading post on the Silk Road than a traditional retail space. Some shop keepers in the neighborhood knew the former owner, Pedro Rodriguez from Puerto Rico, rather well. Sadly, they think he likely passed away within the past year or so as the last time they had seen him he was walking on the arm of his son, a New York City police officer, looking very very thin and rather sickly. I made inquiries at the hotel where he had apparently lived for decades, the Greystone Hotel, located around the corner from his former shop. No one at the freshly renovated, "boutique hotel-style sensibility" luxury apartments, had ever seen or heard of an elderly man named Pedro. Nor did my efforts at contacting the management company inspire a response. Is there a chance that Pedro is still alive and merely moved out when the Greystone Hotel remodeled a few years ago?