We launched our Business of the Month program on November 13, 2014. Thanks to all of you who have nominated businesses through the years, we have surpassed 100 honorees. Help us to select the next one! Tell us which independent store you love in Greenwich Village, the East Village, or NoHo: click here to nominate your favorite. Want to help support small businesses? Share this post with your friends.
Small businesses are the heart of our communities. Not only are they important for the economy, but even more significantly, their variety and unique qualities bring vitality to our neighborhoods, helping to make them the vibrant and distinctive places admired and appreciated the world over.
Village Preservation is deeply committed to celebrating and supporting independent businesses in our neighborhoods. To this end, we launched our Business of the Month program on November 13, 2014, which honors publicly nominated independent, small businesses for enriching life in our neighborhoods. The program features a different storefront business every month, calling attention to their unique stories and the people behind them. We circulate a blog post about each business, reaching tens of thousands of individuals, and we add each month’s honoree to our Business of the Month map. The Business of the Month receives a decal to hang in their window (see above) that includes a QR code that links to the article on our blog that tells the story of the business. Many of the businesses we have honored have been around for decades, some for over a hundred years. They provide a wide range of goods and services, from the essentials, like egg and cheese sandwiches, to the specialized, like top hats (you can find an overview of their diversity here). Almost half of the owners of these businesses immigrated to this country, hailing from over a dozen different countries, and worked their way to small business ownership in our neighborhoods. Earlier this year we celebrated our 100th Business of the Month and made a video about it that you can watch here! Our program has been a popular endeavor and one strong pillar of our advocacy efforts.
Today we are taking a look back at the first business that was awarded the honor in 2014, as well as some of the businesses we have honored this year since we celebrated the 100th Business of the Month!
Makari at 97 Third Avenue
Behind an understated storefront on Third Avenue near 14th Street lies a charming oasis of beautiful things. Makari Japanese Antiques and Fine Art, our very first Business of the Month, provides an incense-scented tour of Japanese craft, from ceramics that are hundreds of years old, to contemporary pottery, textiles, sculptures, and artworks. Much of the furniture displaying items is for sale, too. Many items in the store are available in the $20-$50 range, which has made Makari a much-appreciated go-to spot for beautiful objects since 2009! You can read our very first Business of the Month blog, more about this shop, and its owner, Yuko Nose, here!
Kimono House at 131 Thompson Street
Kimono House at 131 Thompson Street, a small, unassuming storefront in the South Village that for decades has served as a unique gateway to Japanese culture, offering a vast array of traditional garments and accessories for every occasion, was our March 2023 honoree. Kimono House now counts among its customers fashion magazines such as French Vogue, Comic Con attendees who want to dress as particular anime characters, students who want to stand out at their graduation parties, and even people who want to give the gift of a photo shoot in traditional Japanese garb. They come from all backgrounds, drawn by an interest in Japanese culture and in owner Yumiko’s expertise. Fashion stylists from throughout the country and even from abroad have over the years retained her kimono coordinating services. But Kimono House is a place for everyone with an interest in Japanese culture, and is one of the many reasons the South Village is so unique a place to live and visit. Read more about the fascinating services and goods that are on offer at Kimono House here.
SOS Chefs at 104 Avenue B
SOS Chefs was founded by Atef Boulaabi in 1996. Atef grew up in Tunisia, historically a hub of international commerce and a melting pot of culinary influences. She, along with her husband, former chef Adam Berkowitz, started SOS when they began supplying chefs with a treasure trove of spices meticulously sourced and packaged at the behest of some of the top chefs in the city and beyond. After a while, they found that home chefs were clamoring for her spicey goods as well, and they opened a retail store to supply the demand.
Their modestly sized storefront contains over a thousand different products, from chilis to salts and everything in between. You’ll find at SOS Chefs a carefully curated selection of roots and barks, peppercorns, dried herbs, dry mushrooms, extracts, bitters, oils, powders, nuts, house-made infused vinegars, signature spice blends, and much else. A trip to the store is a must for the olfactory experience alone! But you can read about the place and the story of its beginnings here.
West 14 Apothecary at 312 West 14th Street
West 14 Apothecary has served its neighborhood for over thirty years. In 2018, its long-time, retirement-ready owners sold the business to Manish (Manny) Goswami, a pharmacist from Gujarat, India who had moved to the city in 2008. For Manny, this was the culmination of a lengthy career trajectory. He had initially gone into the profession back home, inspired by a childhood desire to help alleviate the severe migraines that afflicted his mother. To acquire this expertise, he enrolled in an MBA program in New York City, and the rest is history.
After experiencing firsthand the iniquities and difficulties that result from both working at and being a client of the big chain store pharmacies, Manny resolved to work instead at small, independent pharmacies that would grant him the independence and flexibility to treat his customers like his own family. When a friend told him that West 14 Apothecary was up for sale, he jumped at the opportunity.
High Line- and Chelsea Market-bound tourists make up the bulk of his over-the-counter (OTC) customers. He has a great selection of traveler essentials and emergency items that make up the store’s over-the-counter inventory. What sets this pharmacy apart, however, is not its OTC merchandise, but its prescription service, which Manny seems to have fashioned as a sort of inversion of the kind he encountered at CVS. We are thrilled that Manny has chosen our neighborhood to infuse his unique and personal approach into our lives. Manny’s story is a heartwarming journey. You can read more about it here.
Ipswitch Watch, Clock, and Jewelry Repair at 109 East 12th Street
Our June 2023 Business of the Month, Ipswich Watch, Clock & Jewelry Repair is one of a handful of remaining watch repairers in the city. And not only can they repair your broken timepiece; they also offer a selection of vintage watches, clocks, and watchbands for sale, as well as an eclectic selection of artwork, housing wares, and jewelry.
Ipswitch is located on 12th Street just east of Fourth Avenue in an 1854 building at no. 109 (see also here) in the historic but endangered area South of Union Square. In addition to the shop, Philip, the 2nd generation owner, operates an off-site workshop where the repairmen he employs can work undisturbed, and so that Philip and the business can keep up with increasing demand. As with all of our Businesses of the Month honorees, Ipswitch Watch, Clock, and Jewelry Repair has a great story to tell. You can read it here.
Record Runner at 5 Jones Street
Record Runner has been selling and buying records and collectible music items for over forty years. It is one of the last survivors of the dozens of record stores that once dotted the neighborhood. You can read more about the origins of Record Runner and how it remains an incomparable place to hunt for rare musical finds here.
DL Cerney at 324 Eat 9th Street
What began as a family hobby turned into a thriving small business that serves the sartorially discerning. D.L. Cerney was established in 1984 by Dwayne and Linda (St. John) Cerney, longstanding yard sale devotees with a strong appreciation for the style and quality of vintage clothing. They would travel from yard sale to yard sale and acquire clothes and shoes that caught their eye. They moved to NYC in 1984 and opened a store on East 7th Street to sell the items of clothing and shoes that they had so lovingly and expertly acquired. As time went on, the success of their vintage sales made them realize that the demand for their goods would soon overtake their supply. Because the family’s personal collection was not inexhaustible, new sources of merchandise became necessary. So the Cerneys decided to produce their own clothes, inspired by favorite items from among the ones that they had long sold at their East 7th Street store. While much has changed in the East Village since 1984, the store, now located on East 9th Street, has continued to expand its client base and has been leading the trend toward finding the beauty in the styles of yesteryear. Read more about the Cerney’s journey here.
Fountain House + Body at 105 Thompson Street
Fountain House + Body is the first brick-and-mortar store opened by Fountain House, the renowned pioneer of the clubhouse model for helping people living with serious mental illness. It sells customizable, environmentally sustainable, low-waste, all-natural products for both the home and the body. All proceeds benefit The Fountain House organization. So when you shop at Fountain House + Body, you won’t just be doing good, you’ll also come out with sustainable, great smelling products that are good for both you and your home! You can learn more about this amazing enterprise here.
Unregular Pizza at 135 Fourth Avenue
Unregular Pizza at 135 Fourth Avenue at 13th Street is a purveyor of high-end yet affordable Roman-style slices that achieve excellence by hewing to tradition. But the flavor and dining experience surprises are what sets this eatery apart from all the others. You can read all about Gabriele Lamonaca, a transplanted Roman and the owner and creator of this “unregular” experience here.
Unregular Pizza is also one of the businesses that lie within the historic but endangered area South of Union Square. You can help us by signing a letter to your elected officials to support landmarking the South of Union Square Historic District here.
Andrade Shoe Store at 320 Bleecker Street
Andrade Shoe Repair at 320 Bleecker Street has been healing the soles of New Yorkers for almost 25 years and has been a favorite pilgrimage spot for all manner of shoe- and leather-related services. The story of how Andrade Shoe Repair came to be began almost 80 years ago in Quito, Ecuador with one Cesar Andrade, a cobbler who opened a store named “Cosedora La España” at Quito’s La Plaza del Teatro in 1945. You can learn Andrade’s origins and its transfer to Greenwich Village here! It’s a great story that embodies many of our own — how one’s ancestors immigrated to these shores to make a new life and a good living!
What special small business would you like to see featured next? Just click here to fill out a brief form. Thank you and thanks to all of our wonderful small businesses for keeping our neighborhoods lively!