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Mom & Pops: Essex Card Shop Expanding on Ave A

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The estimable Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing NY is guest blogging for Curbed this week. We're lucky enough to have some of his stylings in these parts, too.

Stationery store Essex Card Shop, after several decades on Avenue A between 2nd and 3rd Streets, will soon be expanding into the long-shuttered Coffee Pot café spot next door in a rare example of an old mom-and-pop getting bigger, instead of completely vanishing.

Buying some notepads, I chatted awhile with the Pakistani proprietor and his daughter, a friendly pair who enjoy the mom-and-pop shop experience. They like making conversation with their customers and letting things slide when regulars come up short. "They pay us back eventually," said the daughter, "We don't worry about it." The father said the shop might be more than 80 years old. The original owner, still alive in his 90s, came to visit recently,"from another state he came all the way here, just to see his old place."

I asked about their expansion plans and they are thinking about pushing out the recessed doorway and replacing the sign. I begged them to keep both—the doorway may be the only one like it left in the neighborhood. But they need the space. So while we may be losing an antique entryway and a great hand-lettered sign, the Essex is here to stay. Jeremiah Moss