Love Didn’t Save the Day, This Time
Vendors and customers alike mourn the death of an East Village institution.

On Second Avenue between Seventh Street and St. Marks Place in the East Village lie remains of what was once New York City. The iconic store that was Love Saves the Day is now covered by a chain-link fence and displays a sign in the window that reads, "Thank you to all our friends and devoted customers! We will miss you!" To most, this scene seems like just another product of the poor economy and retail recession. But to some, this store is very special. For one thing, it has been open since 1966.

Love Saves the Day officially closed on January 18th, 2009. However, with every passing day, more and more people accumulate on the sidewalk in front of the it, staring at the sign with both wonder and worry as they find out that a store that has always been there is now gone forever. In New York City smaller retail vendors are beginning to feel the pressure of the recession and some are unable to survive.

"A weakening global economy and decreased consumer confidence will challenge the strength of the market, causing landlords to face downward pressure on asking rents and retailers to re-evaluate their need for space," states a 2009 forecast report for New York City by Grubb & Ellis. According to an article in the Villager, zoning regulations in New York City "allow chain stores to move in as of right and offer no protection to small businesses from rising rent."

Richard Herson, the owner and founder of Love Saves the Day, began to consider closing his East Village location after economic pressures started to become too much. After his wife and co-founder of the store, Leslie Herson, passed away last August, he made his final decision.

"A lot of people in the neighborhood were heartbroken," he said. Herson was well aware of his store’s landmark status, noting that all generations of shoppers frequented his store.

Love Saves the Day was first located at 77 E. 7th St. between First and Second Avenue. In 1983, it moved to its most recent location on 2nd Avenue. The store sold a wide variety of goods, collectibles and resale clothing. In 1985 the store was immortalized in the movie Desperately Seeking Susan with Madonna, in which her character trades her jacket for a pair of boots.

"They had a really great variety of stuff you couldn’t find anywhere else. Where else can you find, I mean, fill in the blank—polka dot and stripped leggings?" said Courtney Crowder, a student at NYU and customer of Love Saves the Day.

Rick McKinney, who until recently lived within blocks of Love Saves the Day, misses the once "funky flavor" of Second Avenue. In his visits back to the East Village, he has noticed the neighborhood change.

Kalsang Dhondup, the owner of Himalayan Vision, is also sad to see his neighbor go. He too has suffered losses in the recession and explains how tough it is to get customers to buy, even when a good price is offered. Dhondup attributes the exceptionally high rent in the area and poor economy to the replacement of smaller businesses with big chains.

"It’s just another case of New York changing. There’s no real care about the historical aspect, it’s all about the money," said Lorne Colon, an employee at Toy Tokyo, which sits on top of the adjacent store to Love Saves the Day.

In the end, as Greenwich Village resident Edmund Song said, "I guess love didn’t save the day." Or at least it didn’t this time, but in Pennsylvania, the store’s other location will remain open, in New Hope.
Copyright 2007-2011 Rebecca Lay. Please do not reproduce without permission.