Owner of Flatiron store Fishs Eddy talks shop in nonfiction graphic novel

Julie Gaines chronicles her store’s ups and downs in Minding the Store, which was illustrated by her son, Ben Lenovitz. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Anyone considering opening a small business in New York City, or who simply enjoys frequenting them, may want to check out a new graphic novel on the subject, written by the owner of quirky Flatiron home goods store Fishs Eddy.

Julie Gaines, who opened the shop with her then boyfriend, later husband, Dave Lenovitz, 32 years ago, has written the book, published by Workman (a division of Algonquin) and titled Minding the Store with illustration by her son Ben Lenovitz.

Released on November 29, it’s now available at her store on Broadway (along with other book retailers) for $22, and tells the history of the business through its ups and down from the shuttering of American manufactures that made its dishware to, in recent years, growing competition from online retailers. It was the latter problem that prompted Gaines to hire a CEO to help counter dwindling sales, only to end up feeling even more stressed and eventually undermined by his corporate drill sergeant approach to running a store.

“He actually bullied us,” said Gaines. “That’s what this book is about. He terrorized us.”

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Tiny owl spotted in Stuyvesant Town

Northern Saw-whet owl in Stuyvesant Town

By Sabina Mollot and Maria Rocha-Buschel

Guess whooooo recently visited Stuyvesant Town?

A resident spotted this brown and white owl on Monday as it perched on a railing by the mezzanine of 525 East 14th Street. He told Town & Village that he’s seen lots of different birds in the neighborhood but the owl was an unusual find in the city. The resident, Mario, who didn’t want his last name mentioned, also noted that he wasn’t expecting to capture this little guy on camera in broad daylight but pulled out his phone and managed to get some shots of the obliging raptor.

Upon seeing the photos, Anne Lazarus, a longtime birder who leads bird watching tours in Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Cove, identified this visitor as a Northern Saw-whet Owl, noting the lack of ear tufts.

“The Northern Saw-whet Owls have been showing up this year,” said Lazarus, adding that a few have been spotted in Central Park. Additionally, despite its size, the owl seen in Stuy Town is not a baby, but an adult, with Northern Saw-whets being one of the smallest owl species in North America. They are comparable, size-wise, to robins.

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Editorial: Give Stuy Town’s drivers a break

As Town & Village reported this week, a number of community residents have gotten parking tickets or even towed for parking in spots along the newly designed 20th Street east of First Avenue that used to be legal.

While the city has already made the choice to justify the permanent loss of 12 parking spaces in the interest of enhanced traffic safety (an important issue to be sure) it’s unfortunate that this plan was enacted with almost no heads up to the community (unless you count a tweet in September by the Department of Transportation, followed by an article in this newspaper after residents noticed the sudden loss of parking spaces).

It is also unfortunate that this lack of communication extends between city agencies. Ideally, there would have been a message given to the NYPD that parking spaces that are no longer legal were legal up until very recently and that perhaps motorists parking where they have always parked might be deserving of a grace period, as Council Member Keith Powers is asking for.

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Santa Con is coming to town on Saturday

Santa Con revelers, pictured in 2016 at the Flatiron Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Love it or hate it, Santa Con is here to stay in New York City with the next yuletide pub crawl scheduled for this Saturday, December 8.

Whether you hope to participate (for a $12 donation to charity) or just avoid the red-and-white-clad revelers, the organization that runs the event has begun listing the participating venues on its website. The actual route isn’t usually revealed until 24 hours before the start of the event, where men and women have made a tradition of dressing like Santa, elves, reindeer and in other holiday-inspired attire.

The venues are mostly clustered in the East Village, as well as midtown, mostly in the 30s with a few in Flatiron and Union Square. Some of the venues on the south end of the route include The Phoenix, Nowhere Bar, Crocodile Lounge, SideBar, Plug Uglies, Coyote Ugly, The Continental, Vazac Horseshoe Bar, Machos NYC. In Flatiron, there’s Taj, 230 Fifth Avenue rooftop bar and Slate. In midtown, they’re Feile, Rattle and Hum, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, Blarney Stone, Jack Doyle’s and Rick’s Cabaret.
For the full list, visit santacon.nyc/route.

20th Street re-design has residents ticketed, towed and just plain ticked

The newly laid out street east of First Avenue, with two protected bike lanes, has confused drivers and worried pedestrians. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The traffic safety enhancement project along 20th Street, east of First Avenue, which has so far included creating two protected bike lanes on the north side of the street and moving a bus stop to an island outside the bike lanes, apparently isn’t making neighborhood residents feel any safer.

In fact, many residents have been complaining to Council Member Keith Powers that they’re now more afraid for their safety now that they have to cross the bike lanes to catch the bus. Additionally, at least 15 drivers have contacted Powers to say they’ve gotten tickets, usually for $115, for parking in spots that were legal up until very recently. A few people have also been towed at an additional pickup fee of up to $225.

The project, which began in October, was aimed at making the streets safer in anticipation of increased bike and pedestrian traffic to the Stuyvesant Cove ferry landing once the L train shutdown begins on April 27.

But from what Powers has been hearing, the general response has been that the work seemed unnecessary.

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Letters to the editor, Dec. 6

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

More bike regs would go a long way

To the editor,

Thank you for researching and publishing (in your Nov. 29 issue) data that’s been collected re: bike/pedestrian accidents in New York City (“Stats on bicycle/pedestrian crashes”).

I frequently cross at 23rd Street and Second Avenue. As at other major cross streets bicycles have their own traffic light which is rather adorable (red, yellow and green icon of a bicycle). Many, perhaps half, of the bicyclists ignore it, if they see it at all. It’s particularly evident when there is a left turn signal for downtown traffic to turn to go East on 23rd to the FDR. That includes many trucks and at least one bus route.

I’ve seen vehicles having to deal with a bicycle weaving about in front of them as they turn. More frequently the bikes zip outside their lane to continue straight down Second in the middle of the street.

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