09 October 2009

An Oddity: The Historic Souvenir Shop


One doesn't think of Midtown's souvenir shops as historic. They're fly-by-night enterprises set up to fleece the tourists, right?

Well, not J.S. Sutton & Son N.Y. Souvenirs. This is a family business, three generations old, and begun in 1925. You'll find two members of the Sutton family inside: an old man with a tan, bald head and sleepy eyes, the son of the founder; and his son, also bald, less tan, and taller. The Suttons have an ideal location for hawking tsotchkes. I don't know where they were from 1925 to 1932, but after that they've always been in the same storefront opposite the Empire State Building. In fact, they opened the year after the skyscraper did. How many other businesses in the area can say that?

Inside, it's the usual array of tacky crap: t-shirts and mini Statues of Liberty and such. There are signs of age, however. The man wouldn't let me take pictures, but the ceiling is somewhat ornate and there's a stairwell in back that looks like it might lead to the 19th century.

4 comments:

EV Grieve said...

Excellent find, Brooks.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

thanks, EV. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I went inside an old man Sutton himself was at the register.

Mame said...

I saw Mr. Sutton on MSNBC this morning. The police wouldn't let him get to his shop to open because of the shooting outside the Empire State Bldg. I search for more info lead me here, thanks!

John Sutton said...

Love this shop when I found it years ago.. My Dad is J S Sutton and I'm his son.. :) Last time we visited NYC we went along and there was SON... Got a business card from them which my Dad still carries in his wallet today.. Long may it continue..
Cheers John...