This is shaping up to be a horrendous week for classic Manhattan stores.
First Gotham Book Mart closes shop in a rent battle, now cigar king Nat Sherman is being forced out. The owner of the tobacco emporium's building on West 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue—where Sherman, the most prominent tobacconist in the city, has been for decades—want them out, humidor and all, in hopes (Hopes! Not even a definite plan!) that a super-classy chain like Louis Vuitton or Giorgio Armani will want the corner space.
Who's to blame? Well, the scumbag landlords, or course, yes. Always blame them. Kick them into the gutter if you see them coming down the street. (Oh, wait! They already LIVE in the gutter. I forgot!) But also Sean Combs, aka Puff Daddy, aka P. Diddy, aka Born Jackass who gets my vote for the most useless, vacant, why-is-he-a-star of the century. The mogul of everything and nothing opened a Sean John flagship two years ago on Fifth and 41st. Now everyone thinks the area's going to become a fashion hot spot. (There's an irony here. Aren't Diddy and his rapper pals always photographed with big, whopping cigars sticking out of their mugs?)
Poor old Nat Sherman—which is still family-owned, bless its heart—has to get out by late spring 2007. But there's good news. According to reports, the store is close to signing a lease at 12 E. 42nd St., between Madison and Fifth avenues, just a hop, skip and a jump from their current digs. My money's on Nat Sherman being around long after the last Sean Combs branch goes the way of the automat.