Dress Shoppe II, East Villag Indian Boutique Is Closing


Walking into Dress Shoppe II is like strolling into an emporium of colour and material. The cabinets are overflowing with hand-embroidered materials and saris, the racks are tightly full of kurtas and salwar fits, and even the ceilings are lined in intricate tapestries. Below the primary flooring of the store, there are two storage flooring full of piles of extra product. All of it must go by Jan. 31.

After practically 50 years of enterprise, the treasured East Village retailer is shutting down. Following practically two years of pandemic-related struggles, mixed with a landlord dispute, the lack of her husband and her personal well being issues, Saroj Goyal, the proprietor, determined that closing the shop was your best option.

“Every moment is special here,” stated Ms. Goyal, 72, as she sat sipping scorching tea on a December afternoon. Every so usually, she paused the dialog to assist a buyer who had wandered in, sharing ideas and telling them to take a look at the store’s Instagram.

Ms. Goyal and her husband, Purushottam Goyal, emigrated from Delhi, India, within the Nineteen Seventies. It was Mr. Goyal’s concept to open the enterprise in 1977; the store quickly turned a slice of South Asia in Manhattan.

For a long time, the couple would journey to India to search out one-of-a-kind objects to promote. “My husband walked from village to village to collect all these things. He had a very unique taste,” Ms. Goyal stated, choosing up a hand-beaded textile.

In September 2019, Mr. Goyal died, a loss that also pains Ms. Goyal daily. The retailer now holds a number of mementos of his life. “My husband made me laugh so much in this room. All day every day, we were together for 50 years in this shop,” Ms. Goyal stated, tearing up.

There’s a portrait of Mr. Goyal hung excessive on the again wall and a e-book full of handwritten tributes to him from clients on the checkout counter. “The world is a little less good with his passing,” one individual wrote. Another: “Your presence is missed physically, but your spirit is all around this place.”

On prime of grieving his loss, Ms. Goyal needed to determine the best way to hold the shop working; administrative issues had been her husband’s area.

In February 2020, she referred to as up her landlord, the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association II, to debate hire. Cooper Square manages low-income housing co-ops on the Lower East Side; rents in these buildings are backed by earnings from the corporate’s industrial properties. Ms. Goyal arrange an appointment over the telephone with somebody from the workplace, however when the time got here, she stated, nobody confirmed up.

Later that month, a consultant from Cooper Square got here to the store unannounced and demanded a lump-sum cost of all of the missed hire, Ms. Goyal stated. Soon after, the pandemic arrived, and it was tough for the store to rake in any gross sales in any respect for a number of months. In June 2020, Cooper Square sued her for greater than $265,000. Then, the next February, she was recognized with breast most cancers.

“We’re sad to see Dress Shoppe go, but we have to remain a fiscally solvent project,” stated Dave Powell, the manager director of Cooper Square. “We respectfully but categorically dispute Ms. Goyal’s characterizations of the interactions that she’s had with staff.” Mr. Powell added that the Dress Shoppe occupies their largest industrial area. “So not having a rent-paying tenant at that storefront was a significant blow to our co-op’s financial health,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ms. Goyal’s story caught the eye of the web.

In December 2020, Nicolas Heller paid the store a go to and posted about it on his Instagram web page, @newyorknico, which has greater than 760,000 followers. “When I do these posts, the reaction is always positive, but some businesses resonate more than others. With this one, there were so many people commenting with memories shopping there, of Saroj’s husband, just beautiful anecdotes about the shop,” he stated.

The supermodel Bella Hadid reposted Mr. Heller’s photographs, writing, “please please please Let’s go visit @dressshoppenyc & Mrs. Saroj Goyal to show her some loving support !!! She has devoted her life to this business and we need to remind her of how important she is!”

Brandon Stanton, the creator of the weblog Humans of New York, which has greater than 17 million followers on Facebook, wrote a publish on Ms. Goyal in July. “When I met her, I was very moved by her story and her kindness,” he stated. Ms. Goyal being stored out of the loop on the internal workings of the enterprise left her in a weak scenario, Mr. Stanton added, which was one thing that his readers empathized with. “A lot of people recognized similarities in their own cultures, or the interactions between their own older parents or women in their lives.”

He stated he additionally helped mediate a deal between Ms. Goyal and the owner, they usually got here to the settlement that Ms. Goyal would pay Cooper Square $130,000 and quit the store by the top of January. Mr. Stanton began a GoFundMe to gather donations for Ms. Goyal, which raised practically $500,000.

For the store’s many loyal clients, the information of its closing is emotional.

Nadine Hanson, 30, first found Dress Shoppe II in 2014, the yr she had moved to New York. “I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, and I was exposed to very little South Asian culture there,” she stated. Ms. Hanson, a waitress, ultimately turned near Ms. Goyal, and the 2 even spent Christmas Eve collectively within the retailer in 2020. “I feel like she’s family now,” Ms. Hanson stated.

“The East Village is changing so much, has changed so much, and this is another nail in the coffin,” stated Jenny Goldberg, a 39-year-old therapist. “Dress Shoppe is a place I could always walk in and be greeted with love and stories, offerings of tea. It was a little sanctuary in the middle of the busy city.”

Kate Mueller, 28, a graduate pupil who labored within the retailer part-time, stated that her favourite reminiscences there have been the lengthy chats she had with Ms. Goyal. “In between helping organize things, we would just sit and talk about life,” she stated. “It’s these types of stores that are the lifeblood of this city.”

Now, Ms. Goyal’s focus is on promoting as a lot of her inventory as potential earlier than she has to vacate the property on the finish of the month. She has an Etsy retailer, which Ms. Hanson helped her arrange, and he or she’s planning to create her personal on-line store to maintain the enterprise alive.

But Ms. Goyal will miss the brick-and-mortar store. “I love talking to the customers and dealing with them directly,” she stated. “I’m very grateful for the East Village, for my customers for giving me all of their love and support.”