The unofficial talent scout of New York City and champion of local businesses, Nicolas Heller aka New York Nico takes us on a tour of his favorite local shops. As the pandemic continues to cripple many NYC small businesses @newyorknico uses his Instagram platform to give a voice to struggling local shop owners. He encourages his 450K followers to support these local businesses that are so integral to the fabric of our city neighborhoods. The results have been uplifting, enabling many owners to pay their rents and keep their stores from closing.
In September National Assignment was born from an idea he posted on Instagram. The concept is that university students are given real life assignments to help struggling businesses with social media, e-commerce, photography, videography, and more.
Shop Local with New York Nico features several iconic businesses that are neighborhood stalwarts. Photos and comments are from his Instagram account @newyorknico and include links to individual shop’s GoFundMe campaigns. Check out his shop for his classic New York Legends merchandise. And let’s follow his amazing example supporting as many of our local shops as possible.
27 East 3rd Street, New York, NY 10003
La Sirena on 27 e. 3rd street is the only Mexican folk art store in NY. Owner, Dina Leor opened the store 21 years ago after teaching art at Bellevue hospital while simultaneously selling handmade folk art on St. Marks st. which she brought back from her frequent travels to Mexico. @lasirena_nyc has thousands upon thousand of art all hand made by Mexican artisans.
Dina currently owes 4 months rent and doing about 20% of her pre-Covid business. She is feeling lost, but let’s show her how NY looks out for NY. Stop by in person, or check out her website or gofundme .
CASEY RUBBER STAMPS
322 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003
I visited John Casey from @caseysrubberstamps on 322 e. 11th st. today. He was really nice to me, but didn’t want to do an on camera interview. Usually I don’t like telling business owners that when I post these #MomNPopDrop profiles, they usually get a large uptick in business but I felt like I needed to today in order to secure the interview… Unfortunately it was very obvious he was skeptical, so I bet him that if he didn’t see a large influx tomorrow that I would come back and buy $100 worth of stamps… So pls, show up and support him so I don’t lose the bet.
Casey has been in the stamp business for 40 years. His store has over 15,000 designs and he also will custom make any stamp for $20 per square inch… All by hand. Go show some support tomorrow and tell him the guy in the Cellino and Barnes shirt sent you!
Two weeks later
MERCER STREET BOOKS
206 Mercer Street, New York, NY 10012
Mercer St. Books is another NY staple on the verge of closing it’s doors… The store opened in Greenwich Village 30 years ago. Back then, used bookstores in the neighborhood were the norm. Now, they are the last of the old guard. Owner Wayne Conti wants to go on, but the future is unsure and his ongoing debts are real. Please go visit Wayne at 206 Mercer and buy a book or two and/or check out his GoFundMe which you can find at @mercerstreetbooks . Help keep old NY alive.
108 Rivington Street, New York NY 10002
Stopped by the incomparable Economy Candy on 108 Rivington today. The candy shop has been an LES staple since 1937 when it was started by the grandfather of current owner Mitch Cohen. Because of COVID, @economycandy is doing 10% of its usual business. Most of their business pre-Covid was from tourism and events which is essentially non-existent now. In addition, because of all the safety restrictions put in place, they have made the inside of the store off limits and only doing curb side pickups and online delivery. They recently introduced their $10 mystery bags and CandyCare packages, and Halloween bags which can be shipped nation wide. Such an iconic spot. Go show them love!
8 Mott Street, New York, NY 10013
One of my all time favorite date spots as a kid is on the brink of closing forever. Chinatown Fair Video Arcade on 8 Mott st. has been open since 1943 and is the last remaining mom and pop arcade in the city. Everyone who is anyone has been here from Robert De Niro to @caseyneistat to Meryl Streep to Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Because of COVID, they have not been able to open for 6 months and still required to pay crazy Manhattan rents. They have set up a GoFundMe which I have linked to in my stories.
According to the owner Lonnie, “Currently we are behind almost 6 months rent, and our landlord has informed us that we are in danger of being evicted very soon. Each month’s rent is $9,500.77 now, totaling $57,000. This is one of our goals to reach here. As soon as that goal is reached, we will have a big party at CTF for all of you who have contributed. Thanks in advance for all of your help and stupendous support!” Chinatown Arcade gofundme.
THE MUSIC INN
169 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10014
The Music Inn on 169 West 4th st. Is one of the longest running music stores in NYC opened since 1958. Owner Jeff Slatnik came to work for the store in 1966 and ended up taking it over in 1976. Every famous musician you could imagine has been a customer at one point, from Bob Dylan to John Lennon. They specialize in word musical instruments and can repair pretty much anything you bring in. Due to COVID, they are operating around 50% so if you can stop by and support it would be much appreciated.
342 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003
How many businesses can you name that have stayed open for over a century? @venierospastry has been an East Village staple since 1894! Now run by it’s 5th and 6th generation family members, Frank Jr. and Robert Zerilli. More people have hit me up to share about this business than any other. It’s so loved by the community and I was honored to shine a light. Go and support by buying some incredible pastries! Shout out @jamesandkarla for the intro!
BLEEKER DIGITAL SOLUTIONS
85 Kenmare Street, New York, NY 10012
My pal @wesley told me to check in on @bleekerdigitaltoday on 85 Kenmare. They have been a family run film development business for the past 21 years. Since COVID, they are operating at 50% and nearly all the other businesses on the block have gone under. Pls go support and say whattup to Anil and Nisha.
PUNJABI GROCERY & DELI
114 East 1st Street, New York, NY 10009
Punjabi Deli on 114 e. 1st st. has been an LES staple since 1993. It’s the go-to food spot for South Asian cabbies which means you know it’s the best of the best… But (sigh, here Nico goes again) because of COVID and the slow death of the yellow cab, @punjabidelinyc is in trouble. They finally opened their doors after being closed for 4 months. Pls go support this institution in person if you can, and if you can’t, there has been a GoFundMe made by @jessica_morgulis to help support them through this.
SAIGON VIETNAMESE SANDWICH
369 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013
A friend sent me a pic of this sign that was hanging up inside the classic Saigon Vietnamese Banh Mi shop on 369 Broome St. calling for our help. I went thru today and ordered an incredible Chicken Bahn Mi and Lychee juice all for 10 bucks. The shop has been around since 1993 and struggling hard right now. Go pay Sam a visit and tell him Nico sent ya!
438 Marcus Garvey Boulevard, Brooklyn, NY 11216
When @gizmo_vintage_honey tells you she has an idea for a video, you do it no questions asked. Go visit the one and only Gizmo and her dog Poopie Butt and LuLu’s Vintage on 438 Marcus Garvey. You won’t be disappointed. Watch the video here.
ASTOR PLACE HAIRSTYLISTS
2 Astor Place, New York NY 10003
As you know by now, @astorplacehairstylists is one of my favorite places in NYC. I’ve been getting my haircut here since I was 10 and it’s been a HUGE part of my life. I show it off to everyone visiting from out of town because it truly is the best representation of NYC. Right now, they are operating at 15%-20% their usual speed. Please go and support. It’s not just a barbershop, it’s a museum of NY history.
127 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Stopped by to show love to B&H Dairy which has been an east Village staple since 1938! Another beloved business that has been dramatically effected by COVID. They have set up a GoFundMe to help keep their doors open, so if you can pls donate via link in bio if you can’t make it in person (now closed). Thanks Ola for the whitefish sandwich on challah.
339 Macon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216
Was introduced to the lovely Mrs. Hayes, owner and operator of Macon Hardware for 70 years! When @gizmo_vintage_honey introduced me to her she was busy at work duplicating keys. 93 years young! Always so inspired by ppl like this. Go support and check her out.
28 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10014
YO HOW HAVE I NEVER BEEN TO @labonbonnierenyc BEFORE? Today I had the privilege of meeting Marina and Gus from La Bonbonniere in the West Village. They have been in business for 30 years and have never closed. Even during the pandemic, Marina and Gus stayed open providing meals for the city. Two extremely hard workers who take the utmost pride in what they do. Please go and support them, you will not regret it!
VINCE’S VILLAGE COBBLER
125 Sullivan Street, New York, NY 10012
The most common thing I’ve been hearing from small business owners is that politicians aren’t listening to them… Just last week we literally saw our Mayor turn his back on a small business owner who was trying to offer suggestions. I know I sound like a broken record, but these mom and pop shops are not being given nearly enough support from the city. Since they won’t listen to these owners personally, I plan on posting videos like this so their voices can be heard. Vincent Rao from Village Tailor and @vincesvillagecobbler was telling me his rent is $7k, and business is operating at 10% since COVID… Sadly, this 100 year old business is going to die if things don’t change soon. There is so much that can be done to save these businesses, but it’s gonna take a lot more than just NY’ers showing up and supporting. Politicians need to step up.
VILLAGE REVIVAL RECORDS
197 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012
I visited Jamal from @villagerevivalrecordsnyc on Bleecker Street today. Another small business open for 30+ years that has been struggling to make rent and handing on by a thread due to COVID. Our politicians aren’t doing shit to save these NY staples, so we gotta come out extra hard and support. Pls go pay Jamal a visit and buy some records @ 197 Bleecker St!
ARMY & NAVY BAGS
177 E Houston Street, New York, NY 10002
Henry Yao is a New York staple and so is his Army/Navy store. Located at 177 e. Houston next to Russ and Daughters, his store has been operating for 61 years. Henry works alone in the store 7 days week now and before the pandemic. Every person who walks through his door gets special treatment. It is his life to interact with his regulars and whoever stumbles in from the street.
Because of the pandemic and the high cost of rent (6K + a month!) that Henry refuses to withhold, he will be out of income very soon. He informed me that nowadays he goes 3 hours without a sale. If you are unable to visit and purchase from the store, a GoFundMe has been set up by a customer. Pls support if you can.
ALBANESE MEATS & POULTRY
238 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012
The last butcher in Little Italy. Sadly Moe the Butcher, 95 years strong passed due to complications from coronavirus. His granddaughter, Jennifer, is now running this multi-generational family business.
22 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10014
Had to stop by and show love to @casamagazinesnyc! The shop has been a West Village staple since the 70s and has been owned and operated by Mohammad since 1994. Even though the space is cluttered with thousands of different newspapers and magazines, Mohammad knows where EVERYTHING is. They, like all small businesses have been hit hard during COVID. Stop by and show love!
MIKEY LIKES IT ICE CREAM
199 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009
Mikey of @mikeylikesiticecream wants to make a NY Nico flavor. What should it be? (He said he could do Bagel and Lox flavor if I wanted).