04 February 2011

Goodbye, Shoe Row


When I was a more youthful man, just arrived in New York, and I found I needed to clothe my feet, I headed down to 8th Street in the Village. There, I recall, were at least a dozen show stores, some obviously of many years standing. Literally one shoe shop after another. It was very easy to shop and compare goods and prices. And I always went home with shoes.


In recent years, however, you see less shoe stores and move of the above: vacant storefronts. Also various crappy eateries and assorted oddball businesses. The street is a lane of economic depression. Da'Vinci, seen up top, is one of the footwear survivors. (Great sign, by the way.) I remember it being there in the late '80s, though I'm sure it's older than that. I found two others left, including Kinway, below. Otherwise, this is no longer a shoe street.


Why did it change? Well, streets evolve. After all, in the first half of the 20th century, 8th Street was known for its many new and used book stores. Then it was shoes. Now the lane is on its way to something else. But it's also the same old story: rising rents. They began to go up in the first decade of the 21st century and the shoe merchants left, including the Village Cobbler, at 60 W. 8th Street, which sort of anchored the block. (No one ever got rich selling shoes.) Like so many landlords around the city, those of 8th Street hoped to attract high-paying restaurants. But that hasn't happened.

7 comments:

Ken Mac said...

funny, I was just thinking of doing an 8th street shoe store post at my place. The street is trying to chance, a bar will open and close, a trendy restaurant or two follows and fails, now a Cartridge World (truly a good thing), and Sushi. But there is no NYU foot traffic, it's always nowhere land.

ironrailsironweights said...

I worked not far from that street until the summer of 2000. Even then, there were several vacant former shoe stores.

Peter

Anonymous said...

When the Village was actually a hip place in the 60's and 70's, 8th Street was a mecca for trendy cultural clothing, shoes, knick knacks, posters and smoke shops. I remember when 8th st. was THE place to buy Frye Boots.

But there used to be shoe stores all over Manhattan. Florsheim, Stride Rite, French Shriner that sold all brands and types of footwear. But it seems that they've all been forced out by high rents and the shoe "superstores" like DSW, combined with internet retail like Zappos.

Shoe stores used to be like barber shops with loyal customers who returned regularly and sales people who actually knew you and your tastes. Today, you're lucky to find a sales associate (in most any retail business) with an IQ above 80, not to mention their inability to remember a regular customer.

RT said...

Oh yes,things must "evolve" but how I loved driving into the Big City in the 1970s to shop on W 8th for shoes,wonderful fun shoes.Black snakeskin slingbacks,painted pony leopard print clogs, pink mesh and leather oxfords,and my all time favorite deep red soft Spanish leather cowgirl style boots with the high stacked heels,yum. All quality made,never would have imagined those horrid plastics from China. Thank you for posting this memory. :D

designLA said...

I bought tons of shoes there. Mostly from Joseph on the NE side of 8th ST. right before 6th Ave. Such great memories and fabulous sexy shoes !

R.Wagner
Los Angeles

JRogowsky1 said...

The Village Cobbler on 8th st is no longer. We do however have a rockin Shoe Store called Shoe Parlor 851 7th Avenue between 54th and 55th streets. Come check us out will still have an amazing collection of Frye Boots!!!

Anonymous said...

DOES ANYONE KNIOW IF VILLAGE COBBLER HAS/HAD A WEBSITE? They sold boots that I cannot find anywhere else.

John
Thanx