Editorial: Thrift stores wish you wouldn’t do this

Donated VHS tapes and other items decorate the sidewalk outside Angel Street thrift shop. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

We get it. Sometimes the most convenient time to run an errand, like finally bringing in that donate pile to the thrift store it’s intended for, is before work. When said store is still closed.

But sadly, most of the time what happens is the bags will get picked through by the homeless. Now, you might say, fine, if they need it. But as we witnessed in front of the Angel Street thrift store on a  recent morning, this also means the donated items will end up everywhere, including in the gutter, where they become filthy and useless.

Prior to writing this rant, we spoke with the head cashier at Angel Street (at its new location on West 22nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) Tiffany Davenport.

Of course, said Davenport. she and her coworkers would appreciate if people brought their donations during business hours, but ultimately Davenport said, “You can’t help what people do. We could try to enforce what we want them to do but at the end of the day, it’s their decision.”

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Cauz for Pawz leaving Thrift Shop Row, moving to First Avenue

The former Frenchmen shop on First Avenue (photo by Sabina Mollot)

The former Frenchmen shop on First Avenue (photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Cauz for Pawz thrift shop, which was recently ousted from its space of four years on East 23rd Street in order to make room for a new urgent care center, is moving to the First Avenue storefront formerly occupied by The Frenchmen.

The former air conditioner and electronics shop’s founder, William Koniuk, died late last month. His son, Glenn, still runs the business out of his Williamsburg warehouse, and owns the First Avenue store’s building. It had remained empty for the past three years after his father’s retirement, and was recently renovated, though Glenn recently stressed he wanted to be picky about any future tenant. For one thing, he knew he didn’t want a food-oriented business.

The old Frenchmen space is at 333 First Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets, across from Stuyvesant Town, while the current Cauz for Pawz space, at 212 East 23rd Street between Second and Third Avenues, is going to have its last day of business on August 28. To avoid having to move everything to the new place, there’s now a sale of 25 percent off all pieces of artwork and 50 percent off everything else. A wedding/fundraiser for the store’s mascot pooch, Shorty, has been postponed from September 20 to October 18, Cathryn Duhigg, director of the nonprofit Cauz for Pawz, said.

Cathryn Duhigg, director of Cauz for Pawz at the store (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Cathryn Duhigg, director of Cauz for Pawz at the store (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

She admitted being nervous about transitioning to a much smaller space (one floor versus two) but said the business would adapt by focusing on what sells the most, which are bags, jewelry and clothing for men and women as opposed to houseware items.

“You have to move things much faster, your display changes quicker,” Duhigg said, “but I don’t think it’ll be a problem.”

She also called her future landlord “a nice guy ― I can’t believe how nice he is,” and said she suspected his father somehow helped the deal along from beyond. As of Monday, the lease hadn’t been signed, according to Glenn, but he said he wasn’t anticipating any problems.

“She’s moving in her stuff already,” he said of Duhigg.

“I think it’s a better place for us,” said Duhigg. “People in Stuy Town are so happy.”

Great gifts available from local businesses

Thrift shops on East 23rd Street, like City Opera (pictured) are having holiday gift sales. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Thrift shops on East 23rd Street, like City Opera (pictured) are having holiday gift sales. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

While some may have gotten holiday shopping out of the way with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Town & Village has put together a guide for those who are looking to shop local for their gifts and offer some ideas for more unconventional presents.

Many neighborhood restaurants offer gift cards that provide more of an experience rather than a tangible present. First Avenue’s Petite Abeille offers gift certificates for $15 and $20 that can be combined. SPiN, the Susan Sarandon-owned bar on East 23rd Street, offers gift cards with any amount that can be used for food or drink, as well as for games of ping pong. Nearby wine shops include Cork and the newly-opened Rouge and Blanc, both on First Avenue. Both shops also have an extensive collection of wines from various regions as well as spirits.

Rouge and Blanc manager Dean Barak said that the shop will be having promotions on champagne, cava and prosecco in the weeks leading up to the New Year. The store, which offers free delivery, also offers a 10 percent discount for all Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents who show their ID. For all other customers, the wines are 10 percent off of four bottles, 15 percent off of eight bottles and 21 percent off of 12 bottles.

Jill Pratzon, a Stuyvesant Town resident and art restorer, also has a business that would not typically provide conventional holiday gifts, but she does have options for those who want to give the loved one a gift of renewing a damaged or aging painting. She said that while even smaller jobs take about a month to complete, meaning that a painting would not be ready for gifting before Christmas, she could provide free consultations and treatment proposals for art owners who can bring their paintings into her studio at 122 West 26th Street.

Other local businesses that offer experiences rather than new consumer goods are some of the yoga studios in the neighborhood. Kim Stetz, owner of Savasana Station on Avenue B, is having a December Special with “12 Days of Yoga,” offering gift certificates with 12 classes for $60. The certificate activates with the first class attended and it expires a year after purchase. They can be purchased at savasanastation.com/gift-certificates. Reflections Center for Conscious Living and Yoga at 227 East 24th Street offers flexible gift cards that can be purchased with a specific amount that can be applied as credit or to be used for specific classes or class packages. The studio offers various yoga classes to pick from, as well as stretching classes and meditation.

The Irish Repertory Theatre, temporarily putting on plays at the Daryl Roth Theatre, offers gift certificates for shows. (Photo courtesy of Irish Repertory Theatre)

The Irish Repertory Theatre, temporarily putting on plays at the Daryl Roth Theatre, offers gift certificates for shows. (Photo courtesy of Irish Repertory Theatre)

Gift givers looking for something to wrap up for theater-lovers can get gift certificates to a couple of different neighborhood institutions. The Irish Repertory Theatre, which is currently holding performances at the Daryl Roth 2 at 103 East 15th Street while its West 22nd Street location is renovated, offers gift certificates that are good for two tickets for any show. Because the holiday shows are popular, the certificates can’t be used to reserve tickets to a specific show at the time it is purchased, but can be used to purchase tickets for later shows, depending on availability. Gift certificates can be bought by going to irishrep.org and going to the tickets section. Memberships for the theater can also be gifted but those looking to gift a membership may want to call the theater to ask about it specifically rather than buying a gift certificate on the website.

Another nearby theater company with a slightly different focus is the Peoples Improv Theater, which offers classes and various improv shows. Gift certificates are available in any amount and can be purchased for a specific class or just as credit that can be used for any class. They don’t have gift certificates available that can be used for tickets to see shows but they have a handful of holiday-themed shows throughout the month, including “The PIT Factor New Years Eve Edition” on December 30, “Dean Martin Christmas Pitacular” on December 20 and “This is Why You’re Single” on December 9, 16 and 23.

For lovers of vintage and second-hand clothing, not to mention shoppers who love a bargain, East 23rd Street’s thrift shop row can be a goldmine of affordable gifts. Non-profit animal organization Cauz for Pawz is gearing up for the holidays with sales throughout the store every day this month. Owner Cathryn Duhigg said that the sales will vary from 10 to 20 percent off on different items, varying the sales every day. For example, winter coats were 30 percent off on Tuesday and gloves/hat sets might be on sale in the future.

“We try to do a lot of sales on winter clothing because it’s still very hard for a lot of people,” Duhigg said. “It’s time to help as many people as possible.”

Some of the weekend sales at the store will focus on the non-clothing items, with various stands featuring home goods and various accessories, including headphones, perfume sets and smartphone cases. The store’s basement also has complete dining sets and a rack towards the back of the store with featured holiday accessories, which Duhigg noticed was already disheveled from shoppers picking through for holiday bargains.

The nearby City Opera Thrift Store has antique furniture, as well as cheap books, glasses, plates, vases and other housewares. Manager Diego Medina said that some of their more popular items are the artwork and international items like textiles. As for their clothing, the store is having a “Black and White” event next Wednesday, December 10 from 3 to 7 p.m. where black and white clothing items will be featured for those looking for something to wear to this season’s holiday parties.