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Things have been looking pretty grim on the retail end for West 8th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Once known for its booming shoe business, the strip of stores that line the street is in a bit of a slump: Foot traffic is slimming down and customers are getting more and more sparse. DNAinfo reports that the commercial vacancies on West 8th are at 9.8 percent, which is just about double of the district's average 5.1 percent rate.
Jubilee shoe store owner Cathy Okroashvili cryptically warns: "No one survives on West 8th Street." She's been in the spot for ten years, and adds, "I want to stay here, but to be honest we live day by day." And then there's Fashion Shop Express owner Barry (who apparently is on a first name basis with reporters) who's been on the street for 34 years and is ready to get the hell out: "Why am I wasting my time and my life?"
Others, like Richard Lusardi, owner of the pretty-new Alma 33 restaurant, see a chance to grow the area into a new dining hub: "We see there is a move towards something positive and we are trying to be pioneers in that." But, as the story goes, lots of restaurants have also come and gone in the past few years over there, so best not to count those eggs just yet.
· Struggling West 8th Street Hopes for Revival [DNAinfo]