By Gus Saltonstall
West Side Judaica on Broadway between 88th and 89th Streets plans to close after 83 years, owner Yaakov Saltzer told us. He couldn’t specify when the store would close, but said “I can’t afford the rent and the Internet,” referring to the Internet’s effect on book sales.
A tipster had told us that Saltzer said he plans to close sometime in the next couple of months.
West Side Judaica first opened in 1934 and Saltzer bought it in the 1980’s and moved it to its current location. It sells books as well as items like yahrzeit candles and yarmulkes, and the employees are mostly part of Yaakov’s family, according to a profile from a few years ago.
Nearly all the staff is part of one large extended family. Yaakov’s brother and brother-in-law work there, and his wife is the bookkeeper. His mother works the register. He has five children and quite a few grandchildren. When I asked how many of them work in the store, Saltzer responded, “none,” before he smiled and added optimistically: “Maybe when things pick up a little.”
The store has been on the ropes for awhile as its costs rose and sales dwindled. Saltzer told a reporter in 2014 that he was “just staying afloat.”