WEST SIDE JUDAICA PLANS TO CLOSE AFTER 83 YEARS, OWNER SAYS

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.”

HISTORY, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 107 comments | permalink
    1. Mark says:

      “I can’t afford the rent and the Internet”

      For who does this neighborhood exist? For the landlords? For the Internet sellers?

      Certainly not for the community.

      • John says:

        Storefronts will be filled with businesses that best align with local demand. That will increasingly mean things like restaurants, bakeries, and salons and decreasingly mean sellers of physical goods that can easily be ordered on the internet.

        This realignment can be painful in the short term, but it’s healthy in the long run. Do we really want a neighborhood full of sclerotic businesses, patronized by only the occasional customer?

        If people want places like this to stick around, they need to vote with their dollars. They won’t survive on nostalgia and vague notions of “community”.

        • Joel says:

          I had to look this up, sclerotic. Sadly you’re on point.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          that’s a little insensitive.

          further, you ignore half the equation: the rent.

          how come commercial rent on the UWS doesn’t respond to “supply and demand”? based on the dozens of empty storefronts, rent should be going down.

          • John says:

            I agree Bruce. I didn’t mean to come off as insensitive. I’m sure it’s crushing to have to abandon a business your family has dedicated itself to for decades. And I suspect that there are some customers for whom this shop is a neighborhood institution that they’ll deeply regret losing. I’m just highlighting the fact that neighborhoods and their demands evolve over time, and businesses come and go to meet evolving tastes and consumer preferences.

            As for rent, it does of course respond to supply and demand. The notion that the UWS is some sort of ghost town littered with boarded up storefronts is nonsense. I walked the neighborhood last Thursday night at 8:00pm and things were absolutely slamming. People swarming on the sidewalks, restaurants overflowing, stores busy. My one thought was wow, the UWS is in a bull market. There will certainly be landlords who overreach on rent, but they will eventually fill their storefronts. It simply doesn’t make sense to leave them vacant for long stretches in the vast majority of cases.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              i too walked up Bway, from about 68th (Lincoln Square Theater) to 95th, on Saturday.

              there were empty stores on almost every block, in many cases multiple empty stores per block.

              while i don’t know the history of every property, it is easy to point out properties that have been vacant for several years, and where a thriving business was driven out because of vast increases in rent. for example, RCI Electronics, on the West side of bway, i think the cross street is about 98 or 99. it will not be hard to point out many other cases.

              if it’s not a failure of supply and demand, or what is called “a market failure”, then what is it? and this is happening in many areas of Manhattan.

            • bob says:

              while there are many establishments (mainly restaurants) that are “slamming”, there are a plethora of empty storefronts, particularly north of 90th street, where the rent increases have been the greatest.

            • Mark says:

              Luxurification

            • Wijmlet says:

              “This realignment can be painful in the short term, but it’s healthy in the long run. Do we really want a neighborhood full of sclerotic businesses, patronized by only the occasional customer?”

              Well, yes. It’s called Mom and Pop stores, which, for many UWSers, beat Victoria’s Secret and Blue Mercury.

          • Sherman says:

            You’re obviously a genius when it comes to real estate.

            Maybe you should invest in commercial property and lease your space to the tenant willing to pay you the least in rent.

            • John says:

              Sarcasm aside, landlords will generally lease their space to tenants who will pay the most risk adjusted rent. The tenants that pay the most are those that generate the most profit. The tenants that generate the most profit are the ones who attract the most shoppers in the community. While this is sort of heartlessly capitalistic, it generally works; matching business supply with community demand.

              Perhaps there are some businesses that generate large, positive externalities for their communities that aren’t captured in their profit generating capacity. It probably makes sense to subsidize such businesses in some way. I’m just not sure that this is such a business.

            • Mark says:

              I agree with you Sherman.

          • manhattan mark says:

            Bruce, it’s landlords, they would rather rent to national chains
            than local “mom & pop” stores. If a local store goes under it can still have many years on the lease that they cannot pay…a national chain can still pay…landlords win,
            unfortunately !

          • GroundControl says:

            Bruce Bernstein-Couldn’t agree with you more! It is outrageous rents (!!!!) that have pushed needed and loved businesses out of our neighborhood and resulted in thousands of empty store fronts which remain empty for years and make for neighborhood blight!! It’s not just here. Check out Bleecker Street where even high end retailers like Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, Cynthia Rowley and Coach could not afford the rents leaving a trail of empty stores. We can thank big landlords, big real estate and weak-kneed city government for that for that-for transforming once vibrant communities into shadowlands of what once was.
            John, your comments smack of Ayn Rand. We did not live in a survival of the fittest jungle here on the UWS. We lived in a warm culturally exciting, diverse neighborhood full of businesses where we were known. Where there were eyes on the street which kept us safe. Not shopping malls full of faceless mall stores. No one can keep small retail businesses alive when their rents rise from $20,000 a month to $40,000 a month when the lease comes due. As for empty stores, I’m right now working on an article about those empty stores on Broadway, Amsterdam and Columbus from 72 Street to 106 Street. There are hundreds of them. Bull market?? For real estate selling condos starting at $3 million, perhaps. But I contend that what will really be the result are vacant foreign owned properties which will sit empty and dark on streets already littered with empty storefronts. Real estate has killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Eventually it will catch up with them.

            • John says:

              I honestly have no idea what dystopian world you guys are living in. The UWS is bustling, vibrant, and exciting. Restaurants are packed. It’s drawing lots of young people and families. People want to live here! That’s why rents are going up! Sure, there are some empty store fronts, but they will be filled and they’re far from some sort of blight.

              Ayn Rand sucks. But you know what sucks worse? Lots of regulations meant to calcify some person or group’s nostalgic version of the Upper West Side.

              It’s sad that this Judaica store is closing, but the truth is, the Judaica store replaced some other store at some point. And the Judaica store will be replaced by something else. Hopefully something that more people in the community seek to engage with.

              Every week the West Side Rag lists a roughly equal number of business openings and closing. Most aren’t big chains. Businesses come and businesses go. This isn’t a harbinger of doom. The sky isn’t falling.

              Buck up guys. The Upper West Side is great. There’s arguably never been a better time to live in New York than now. Crime is low. Unemployment is low. We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to all manner of great stores and restaurants. Engage with new, continue to support the old. Just please stop wallowing over some perfect fantasy UWS from days of old. Change isn’t always bad.

            • Howie says:

              when the landlord raises the rent he is able to”borrow more money” its called the NOI net operating income……if a landlord “Lowers the rent” the value of his property in effect is lower valued..even if empty the last higher rent will show on his balance sheets…many of the landlords have borrowed to the sky!!!!sad result the store owners cant afford the outrageous rents..”NOT Sustainable!!!!!!as per apartment rents for over 15 years many buildings have ben bought by the russians…chineese..arab republic and india wealthy people…hence why the rents are outta control….many married couples pay a very high percentage to live in NYC as they dont want to commute…as car costs add at least 5,000 to 6,000 year with insurance payments…parking…the new future is..people lvinging in 600 sq ft apartments paying 30,000 or 40,000 a year for rent and NO ownership..also small apartments mean Less Furniture spending….A added note follow the railroads thats where younger people are moving no need to drive….

        • Ted says:

          @John

          The economic reasoning of your supply, demand and profitability argument are theoretically sound but fickle nature of market trends and the historical evidence strongly suggest that what is voguish this year may not be the next. We have seen a plethora of trendy, expensive, merchants appear on the UWS and many of them fail rather quickly. The mustard store, some of the salad emporiums and innumerable restaurants come to mind, many chronicled here in the WSR.

          What is sad about and 83 year old business going out is that it obviously well satisfied customer’s needs for a very long time. Once a store like West Side Judaica goes it is gone forever. The bakery, the juice bar and the premium tea salon that push it out might only survive a year or less and add no real value to the neighborhood. A generic business selling a parity product at a premium that is not sustainable because there is no differentiation from a hundred nearby clones.

          Chains and franchises destroy the unique character of a city and a neighborhood. It is not Maison Kayser that makes New York unique. It is Katz’s and Junior’s and Arthur Avenue.

          We’ll see how long the bulls run the UWS when people realize the experience they bought is the same as the suburbs with a 300% markup.

          • John says:

            I get it, and am broadly on the same page.

            It’s up to us to support independent stores and restaurants if that’s truly our preference. It’s easy to wax poetic about Katz’s and Arthur Avenue and then end up patronizing Chipotle and Au Bon Pain. Perhaps people don’t really want 4 inch thick pastrami sandwiches for lunch anymore. Maybe the Katz’s of the world should give way to the icons of tomorrow like Mamoun’s and Magnolia Bakery. New isn’t bad.

            I don’t think the suburbs will threaten the city any time soon. In fact, the trend is exactly the opposite. People like the convenience and predictability of chains coupled with the new, exciting, and experimental that you can still find all over the city if you make even a modest effort to seek it out.

        • Suzanne Jacoby says:

          Not true. How many banks do our neighborhoods need? And many of the businesses are patronized by people that are not living in the area. Columbus Avenue used to filled with restaurants and outdoor cafes. Now, walk there at night, at least between 65th Street and 75th and it is a ghost town.

      • Jay says:

        It’s the community that decided that getting their Jewish books, gifts and articles elsewhere (i.e. the internet) was better than shopping at his store. Times change…

        • Mark says:

          the rent

          • Jay says:

            Ya… What about it?

            If more of the community shopped there, then he would be able to afford the rent.

            • Mark says:

              It is too high for a community shop. Suitable for a flagship.

              Anyone care about the community?

            • Jay says:

              Mark, the community didn’t shop there! That’s why it’s closing. This isn’t a hard concept to figure out.

              Conditions have changed. The upper west side isn’t a museum. Most people are smart enough to know that.

            • Mark says:

              Jay, please reread this from the article: “I can’t afford the rent and the Internet.”

              Do you believe that the WSR is authoring articles about mom&pop stores closing on the UWS because of their business failure?

            • Jay says:

              Mark, I assume you’re just trolling… no one can be this dense.

              Good luck with that.

            • Mark says:

              Jay,

              Hurling insults again? This time to me.

              Clearly you don’t see that rising rents are resulting in small business closings.

              I believe that you are the only one.

            • Colton says:

              A book cost $20. It cost $20 dollars back in 2000 and it costs $20 today. But the rent probably tripled since 2000. If all things remained the same, his revenue wont change over the years, just his expenses. How do you survive?

        • Jeff S. says:

          West side Judaica has gone through this crisis time several times before. Each time, the local Rabbi’s have urged from their puppets that their members support this local Jewish business and be willing to spend a little bit more then they would on the Internet in order to keep them here. I wonder if that will happen again now. The previous efforts proved successful; what they prove successful now? That’s the big question.

    2. Rafaela Anshel says:

      So sad. I go there occasionally. A great loss.

    3. joe says:

      A shame. A lovely family. May have been the last Judaica store in Manhattan..

      • Yehudah Mirsky says:

        Luckily there are other Judaica stores in Manhattan, though not on the West Side. Eichler’s and J. Levine immediately come to mind and I think there are others too.

      • OhHonestly says:

        JLevine is still in Midtown and I preferred going there, to be honest. I know other people have had varying experiences there, but none of mine was positive. I wanted to patronize a local business and was willing to pay extra to do so, but the lack of customer service encouraged me to go elsewhere.

        • Leah cohen says:

          Always had very positive experiences at jLevine.

        • Pru says:

          Alas, as much as I wanted to patronize this store, I had a negative experience – they were only interested in selling the most expensive items, otherwise you seemed to be wasting their time.

    4. Sherman says:

      It’s sad to seem a family business go out but it’s hard to compete with the internet.

      Most items are simply cheaper online. This is the reality.

      Plus, a lot of synagogues and Jewish museums sell Judaica.

    5. Shosana says:

      This is devastating! I get all my Judaica from this shop. How can there be no Judaica shop on the Upper West Side?

    6. Jean says:

      They’ve ALREADY moved north. I’ll bet they only do online but ONCE again, the rent is killing mom and pop shops!
      I used to buy my items there. Very sad.

    7. Jacob lichy says:

      Will miss you

    8. Paul RL says:

      Not surprised but still very bummed out over this. West Side Judaica is one of those places that still made the UWS unique for me. Online shopping is great, but there are certain things I prefer to see in person or hold in my hand when making a purchase – a mezuzah, a yarmulke, or a menorah for example. My wife and I bought our ketubah here 7 years ago, and it’s nice that it came from this shop, just down the street.

      I also really enjoy the “social” aspect of shopping here, and love speaking with the salespeople, and even other customers. Every time I walk into WSJ, I feel like I’m getting a tune-up on my Jewishness, even if I’m just buying a toy for my kids.

      Nothing lasts forever, and in New York City some things don’t even last a short time. Eighty-three years is a great run, but I’ll this place greatly.

      • Mark says:

        I am glad you commented on the “social” aspect of shopping. I tried to make the point that these “social” aspects make a Community. Most replies were that Capitalism rules.

        • Jay says:

          No. Most of the replies are that people are free to choose where and how to spend their own money.

          If you want to restrict the freedom of the community to decide what’s best for themselves, then good luck to you.

          • Mark says:

            Is it possible for you to see past the Capitalism-as-being-practiced on the UWS?

            Can you even envision social impacts.

            That’s what I meant by “Capitalism rules”!

            • Jay says:

              I sure do recognize that there are a few people on the UWS that want to dictate how other people live their lives. You seem to be one of them.

              So, I am able to recognize the social impacts of your undemocratic ideals being shoved down the throats of everyone.

            • Mark says:

              I agree with you Jay.

            • Mark says:

              Jay, it’s the landlord that is determining this outcome, unencumbered by any concern for the social consequence.

              I can see that you buy laissez-faire capitalism and individual freedom above community.
              There goes the community and common interest.

          • Chrigid says:

            Jay, “If you want to restrict the freedom of the community to decide what’s best for themselves,” you double the rent so that the price of the merchandise has to double and the community discovers what’s best for it is not to buy.

            Capitalism is a harsh mistress.

        • John says:

          Lots of successful businesses have a community and social component as well. It’s false choice to suggest we can have either profitable, soulless businesses or money losing, community driven businesses.

          And what solution do you suggest Mark? That landlords be forced to rent their properties at a rate that ensures profitability for the tenant? That sounds like a recipe for tons of zombie businesses that very few people want.

          • Mark says:

            “And what solution do you suggest Mark? That landlords be forced to rent their properties at a rate that ensures profitability for the tenant? That sounds like a recipe for tons of zombie businesses that very few people want.” – John

            hey John, creating a strawman that you can argue against does little for the discussion, but here’s something that you might think about:

            Imagine that the balance-in-favor of the landlord was eliminated. In this case, the landlord would be held responsible for the blight he caused by emptying the property, and pay accordingly. As it currently stands, the landlord collects royally when occupied but leave the costs of his blight on the community.

            • John says:

              Mark, this shop hasn’t even closed yet and you’re already complaining about “blight”.

              Perhaps fining landlords for empty storefronts is a path we could take, but landlords have a natural incentive to rent their storefronts. Leaving them vacant effectively already costs them tens of thousands a month.

              I continue to believe that this “story” about huge swaths of empty storefronts blighting the neighborhood is utter non-sense. I walked up Columbus from 60th to 80th and back down Amsterdam/Broadway last night. I only noticed a few empty storefronts over those dozens of blocks (and some already had “coming soon” announcements). I feel like this “blighted neighborhood” narrative is trumped up to vilify landlords.

              Perhaps I’m wrong. Care to share any statistics that demonstrate vacancies are at an abnormal high on the UWS or that that’s having some sort of demonstrably negative effect on the neighborhood?

            • Mark says:

              “landlords have a natural incentive to rent their storefronts. Leaving them vacant effectively already costs them tens of thousands a month.” – John

              So the Free Market will take care of Community? You must know that the profit maximization of an individual landlord does not naturally align with Community interests.

        • Paul RL says:

          Hmmmm. Maybe they were confusing “social” with the “Socialism” aspect of shopping.

          • Mark says:

            Paul RL

            The “Socialism” attack is an old worn meme.

            • Paul RL says:

              Maintain your cool, Mark – obviously my play-on-words joke didn’t carry very well here.
              I was actually showing appreciation for your reply to my initial comment.

            • Mark says:

              Paul, my apologies.

              And thank you for sending your clarification, which was helpful as I have really found myself getting it to it with Free Marketers, Laissez Faire Capitalists, and Individual Freedom zealots in this one WSR Rag. Probably better not to attempt debate with the true believers.

    9. Cynbelle says:

      Oh, so sad! One of the last vestiges of the true, old Upper West Side.

    10. Yosef Shien says:

      Sad. A great loss for the community.

    11. Ronni Pressman says:

      The closing if West Side Judaica makes me sad. A loyal shopper there, with fabulous customer service and care for each customer and their needs can never be serviced the same way on the internet. 😥

    12. UWSHebrew says:

      Meh. You can’t pay tens of thousands of dollars in rent selling $5 yarmulkes and $40 mezuzahs. It works in the side-streets of Chassidic areas of Williamsburg, but not pricey UWS. I’m surprised the store lasted as long as it did. Plus, you can get new and even antique Jewish articles on eBay. I say open a kosher food joint like Mocha Burger (UES), it will be packed.

    13. UWCider says:

      It is very sad to see institution like this go (As I always mention- Big Nick`s anyone?) I hope they will move their business to the www and recover from it.

    14. J says:

      I wish them well and hope they continue as an online business since they are unable to afford the brick and mortar.

    15. Susan Shlang says:

      I love that store and when I lived in the area I use to buy all my wedding and holiday presents there for years.
      Wonderful people. Such a happy place to go. I can ask any question and Never feel stupid.
      I’m so sorry to hear the news.
      They will never be replaced. It will be a lost era my grandchildren will never know.
      So sad!!!!!

    16. Rachel says:

      I will miss this place. I buy all my boys yarmulkes before school starts each year there and have run in to grab many a matza plate/ Haggadah/hostess gift/mezuzah etc in a crunch. Who will measure my boys heads as they grow!

      You will be missed.

      • Independent says:

        Who will measure my boys heads as they grow!

        At the rate things are going, probably “Alexa”, “Siri” or some robot…

    17. UWSiderCindy says:

      While I’ve never patronized the store, the UWS has become a haven to box stores and banks. Gone are the Mom and Pop stores and the one-offs. The landlords would rather their properties stay empty for years, in hopes of Staples or Target renting, rather than keeping a long term tenant who pays less but who who adds to the character to the neighborhood. If this is progress, we need to find a better way.

    18. Elliot says:

      Very sad to hear, of course during the 9 days. I think J Levine in midtown is last man standing.

    19. Doug M. says:

      The UWS, especially north of 79th has become a retail wasteland. Combine that with the panhandlers on just about every corner, Broadway is getting seedier every day. At the very least the city should keep Broadway clean. Maybe some uniformity of the empty storefronts?

      • Mark says:

        Empty storefronts are a blight on the neighborhood.

        Brought to your neighborhood by greed.

    20. Sharon Stein says:

      Very sad. Almost the last Judaica store in Manhattan.

    21. Robert Teitelbaum says:

      So I opened a jewish gift, souvenir shop and gallery on 36th street next to Jerusalem Cafe this week, and a freind alerted me to this story today. Sad. I feel for the family owners who probably tried keeping this business afloat for the past few years at least partially (and perhaps completely) so that the west side community would have a jewish place to shop. Thus is the same reason I crazily saved Jerusalem 2 in 2012, so there would be a inexpensive kosher place for people to eat in Manhattan. Before the move, to 36th street the Broadway rent was $36,000! Have to sell a lot of food to cover that. Internet is hard on retail. The only reason i am willing to open here is because we are designing and making most of our items, and bringing in inexpensive art from Israel. Howeever when our website is G d willing up and running in the next few weeks I expect that will be the primary for business. Thats the world we live in.

    22. Nancy says:

      So sad to lose this store. The people who ran it were always very helpful. There’s no substitute for being able to look through a book before buying, to actually see and hold something you’re deciding to buy. Up and down Broadway so many stores have closed in the 14 years I’ve lived on the UWS, there are more and more empty storefronts. The shopkeepers have attributed their leaving to increases in rent. I will miss this business.

      • Mark says:

        “The shopkeepers have attributed their leaving to increases in rent.” – agree!

        “There’s no substitute for being able to look through a book before buying, to actually see and hold something you’re deciding to buy.” – most of those who feel online is better than stores don’t even read the books they order.

        • Cato says:

          “most of those who feel online is better than stores don’t even read the books they order”.

          And this we know *how*, exactly?? Projecting just a bissel, maybe?

    23. David Newton says:

      Fitting that this should be announced during the 9 days. I am already in mourning.
      Please, please reconsider.

    24. Vivian Gelberman says:

      Crushing. They know our kids since they were tiny. All our ketubahs were bought there. I’ll miss how they make me laugh, every time. A few Fridays ago I popped my head in just to say ‘Good Shabbos.’ They had brought in a big bag of homemade challahs from Brooklyn, “just in case people need…”

    25. Richard Hamburger says:

      We don’t want them to close! They’re an irreplaceable part of the neighborhood and were always very helpful. One of the truly special stores of New York City and the Upper West Side in particular.

    26. Carlos says:

      I will greatly miss this store – it was an important part of the neighborhood. That being said, I wonder how much of their problem was rent going up vs. revenues staying flat or likely declining? I’m guessing it was some of each and not just “greedy landlords.”

      Throughout this thread there has been a lot of talk of the “hundreds” of empty storefronts being a blight on the neighborhood. I think this is a major exaggeration but at the same time it is a big problem. I walked past several this morning in the 80s and almost all of them have become a bedroom for a homeless person. This doesn’t happen nearly as much in front of occupied stores. Who says there isn’t new affordable housing on the UWS?

    27. Steven says:

      Whenever a story like this appears (which is about once a week), many commenters rage about “greedy landlords.” I don’t know any landlords personally, so I am not in a position to evaluate their character. Some may well be more greedy than the average person. I am a UWS resident and a NYC taxpayer, however, so I do have some familiarity with the city and its budget.

      Looking at the city’s budget statistics over the past 25 years (which you can see by clicking on “Revenue and Expenditure Summary” at http://www.ibo.nyc.ny.us/fiscalhistory.html) and doing some analysis of the numbers, I see that over the last 25 years, property taxes collected by the city have risen at an annualized rate of about 4.8% per year. This is slightly higher than the 4.4% annualized increase in the city’s total spending over those same 25 years. Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index has risen at a rate of 2.3% per year over that span. So the city government has raised its spending at almost twice the rate of inflation over a quarter of a century, and not surprisingly, has had to increase its property tax collections at a similarly rapid rate. (Personal income taxes collected have grown even faster, at a 5.8% annualized rate.) The city now spends over $80 billion per year, which works out to more than $8,000 per person, assuming a population of about 10 million.

      So my question is, is the city government greedy? Is it right that the city should increase its property tax collections at double the rate of inflation for 25 years? And what relationship do you suppose there might be between property taxes and commercial rents? I noted in an article at Eater last week about the imminent closure of two restaurants in Union Square (what, you mean the UWS is not the only place where some businesses are closing?!) that the property taxes on the building where the restaurant Republic is located have gone from $90,000 to $476,000 since the mid-90s.
      (https://ny.eater.com/2017/7/24/16020548/blue-water-grill-republic-closing-union-square) Do you think that plays any role in the landlord’s decision to ask for higher rent? Or is it all just the landlord’s greed?

      If you want a big, expensive government that raises its spending at twice the rate of inflation over 25 years, to the point where it spends $8,000 for every man, woman, and child in the city, that’s your call. But how do you think it gets paid for?

      • Juan says:

        It is very easy to connect the dots and you have done a good job of getting us most of the way there. But the final step is discussing why taxes have gone up so much. A primary reason is to fund the exorbitant pension and health care benefits of city employees.

        Don’t get me wrong – most city employees work hard and deserve good benefits. But NYC’s benefits are much better than most other municipalities, so are growing very quickly. And we the taxpayers are paying for it.

        The greatest irony is that I am sure that several people complaining about the greedy landlords are receiving these benefits. If their plans were made more reasonable, tax rates wouldn’t have to increase as much and perhaps landlords wouldn’t increase rents as much.

    28. Wijmlet says:

      John,
      The attitude you express is that of an MBA hotshot who works in finance and has Trumpian values.

    29. UWSMOM says:

      I’ve been in the neighborhood for 15 years. No one is ever in there. I mean honestly, we can’t claim that we are now devastated it’s leaving. If the business mattered and met the needs of the community, then it would be busier and people would be in there. I agree that the rents are a problem….but some of these mom and pops have to go to make way for businesses people actually want to shop in. Stores that close for rent reasons alone, move. Stores that close because no one shops in them, just close. How many of you who are so upset have ever bought anything from this store?? Seriously, how much have you spent here in the last decade?

    30. Another victim of over-development, West side Judaica is the epitome of a mom-and-pop store being crushed by rising rents. Neither CM Rosenthal nor my other opponent have any concrete ideas on how to address this crisis. I do. Its called the Legacy Stores Act. Read about it on my website: VOTECARYGOODMAN.COM.

      We can do something besides kvetch.

      • UWS Craig says:

        I visited the website and read your proposed legislation. If you give tax credits to offset rent increases, you are merely subsidizing landlords who will just increase rents further. What a waste of money. So, you’ll fit in perfectly on city council, which is filled with well-meaning bone-heads who solve nothing but are great at wasting money.

    31. Reeva Nowitz says:

      Sorry to hear this news…but I can understand.
      We live in Troy,NY and my late husband LOVED to shop for books and he did so for MANY years. Upon his death, I donated his vast library of about 1600 books to the Maimonides Day School, in Albany,NY (Rabbi Rubin).
      Good luck to your whole family in your future endeavors

    32. UWSmom says:

      After reading this article, I went to West Side Judaica and bought a few books for my children. I told one of the owners how sorry I was that the store was closing. He asked where I heard the news and then said they might be able to stay in business “if the customers wake up” and show their support. The landlord is going to raise the rent by an extra 3K or so per month. Maybe we can keep the store alive if we all shop there a little more!

    33. BigGuy says:

      Let the bookstore be be changed into a true non profit organization. The contents of the store and all its mailing lists could be sold to the Upper West Side JCC or to one of the large shuls. Then the synagogue gift shop could be expanded into being a book store and A gift shop. That way most of the services provided by the bookshop to the Jewish community could continue to be available.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        a good idea, though it probably couldn’t stay at the Broadway location because of the rent.

    34. Shari says:

      I’ve lived on the UWS for many yrs & have shopped at West Side Judaica for a long time. It will be a real loss when they close. I loved going in there. However, I can’t afford their prices at this point. I discussed w/them more than once, b/c we had heard they might close, considering options such as starting to sell some of their items online, trying to have sales sometimes that they publicize to draw people in, etc. They weren’t willing to try new options like these or others. Although I hate that they’re closing, and will miss them, I wonder if they had been more flexible if they could have made more money and perhaps been able to stay open.

    35. Allison Lew says:

      I hope you all can save this treasure in some format. A beautiful store!
      Maybe a version if it could operate out of a temple?

    36. UWS Craig says:

      Unfortunately, the business model of selling things only Jews will buy, and charging high prices for them, is not such a winning idea.

      • Scott says:

        They were always rude and obnoxious in that store. Good riddance. If that store can’t make it on the Upper West Side, perhaps its just not a very good store.

    37. Wendy says:

      This is the 4th store on that very block that is closing or has closed. We’ve lost the barber, the laundry place, a small hat and jewelry store, and now West Side Judaica. On the very next block, the old Jennifer Convertible store, which takes up nearly half of the block between 89th and 90th has been empty up for years – years! Yes, some places, especially some restaurants and big box stores are flourishing, but there are tons and tons of empty storefronts. It’s depressing and a sign of greedy landlords who’d rather hold out for the over priced rents that no one (except big box stores, drug stores and banks) wants to pay. That’s why the Upper West Side has turned into an outdoor mall. And the city council can’t pass a law to fine landlords for keeping stores empty on purpose for some reason that has to do with a Supreme Court decision on hindering commerce or something. It’s terribly depressing.

    38. Julie B says:

      Good hearing so many of you careing about our neighborhood. Would be even better if some of you gave some of your time and energy to make a public point of your ideas. Many good ones are here. Countless buildings on The UWS have been landmarked in the nick of time. Unfortunately, too many of the unique stores, restauraunts, businesses like the yarn store, handmade this and that had been here are gone. Make an effort to save what’s still here. Stop quibbling, save that which made the UWS charming and unique before it’s only monumentalized in “The West Side Rag”.

    39. wombatNYC says:

      The should open a Machete shop in the location.

    40. Patrick S Tucker says:

      I love the ppl who are aghast when their favorite store closes and yet they rarely patronize it.

      Story the other day about some coffee shop closing and someone is quoted, “I just loved it. I’d park myself there all day!” I wonder how much coffee you bought during your stay. Those seats aren’t free.

    41. Lynn says:

      I think I’m on the worst block on the UWS: Broadway between 111th and 112th. There was a fire in the CitiBank at 111th 3 1/2 years ago. The bank is finally “fixing” the building. In that time, several stores on the block went out of business. WSR even did an article about the space and the block about a year ago.

    42. B.B. says:

      More:

      ““The new generation doesn’t support us,” Seltzer said. “They don’t know us personally because they use online [stores]. They don’t feel obligated.”

      Seltzer said he made the decision to close after an automatic rent increase in his lease that kicked in three months ago made the business unprofitable. “It’s an online world,” Seltzer said. “There’s no way I can pay $24,000 a month in rent and compete with someone online who’s selling without any of my expenses.”

      http://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/first-read-for-july-27/

      Can’t say I blame the guy, $24k per month is a large nut crack. By the time you add on other costs such as labor, insurance, utilities, taxes, etc… you probably are looking at needing nearly $30k each month in sales just to keep the doors open.

      Truth is, and as we have discussed before in these sort of thread, you can easily get shot of having a physical location and sell via Internet only thus saving a good amount.

      When Librairie de France closed their Rockefeller location they joined others in doing just that; having an online presence only.

      I’ll say it again; when Amazon.com was launched everyone thought Jeff Bezos was a “bozo” and would loose his shirt. People won’t shop online, they like going to stores and seeing things… Fast forward and Mr. Bezos has more money than God and Internet retail is booming.

      Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. If your customer base is moving towards Internet, that is where you should be going as well.

      • Mark says:

        I read your essay on the benefit of selling online to reduce costs. However, what I am interested in is your opinion on ““There’s no way I can pay $24,000 a month in rent”, or are neoliberal economics the determinant of our lives?

        • B.B. says:

          Will leave your snide initial remark to the side for present.

          Mr. Saltzer’s rent increase is neither new nor unexpected. If you read the links provided the thing was automatic. Meaning upon last renewal or whatever the man knew what was coming and when.

          However it does seem that for the past several years West Side Judaica is being buffeted by forces largely out of their control.
          http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/185998/west-side-judaica

          Yes, $24K is a vast sum for monthly rent; but places are moving onto Broadway and other parts of UWS surely paying similar amounts.

          • Mark says:

            B.B. – I will leave your insult that I made any snide remark aside.

            You justify this rent as routine and expected, and that another store can pay the $24,000.

            But, but…the point is that long term, locally owned stores are being displaced.

            I believe that that is a bad thing. You?

    43. B.B. says:

      While Mr. Seltzer has made statements about closing, it does appear nothing is totally written in stone. See: https://www.jta.org/2017/07/26/news-opinion/united-states/soon-there-will-only-be-one-judaica-store-left-in-manhattan

      Maybe if the greater community makes an effort…

    44. yankeefrankee says:

      EVEN MORE OF A LOSS, west side laundry next door will close… SO SAD!

    45. Wendy says:

      Oi vay , oi gevult. On behalf of my Jewish bloodline; future condolences to the shop. I’mm a ‘completed” Jewess. Protect Israel. Any Jews remaining in : China, Goa, India, Syria ?n.b. Yaakov Saltzer can’t afford the rent! Does N.Y.C. have mo’ Ashkenaz Jews than Sephardic?n.b. , also, from Ethiopia; &, a supposed, dark-skinned, tribe of Dan. P.S. haven’t yet seen “Menushah”movie. I recommend : “Left Luggage”; &, the film @ a rabbi via Gene Wilder, [R.I.P.]; …..Shaloha. $40,000 a Month rent; would be some person’s salary for a Year. Some of the UWS was better in some ways in @ 1959.

    46. Ariela Heilman says:

      Heartfelt comments aside and writing as a 47 year customer of WSJudaica , W/S student , renter , owner, wife, mother, public school activist & crime victims advocate not to mention a bricks/mortar shopper , central to this discussion , is the 2008 overturning of the 1940’s federal 80/20 regulation . The regulation limited a co-op’s income to no more than 20% from sources other than shareholders’ monthly maintenance payments . The moms and pops whose absence we mourn and whose departure took with them the soul , verily the neshuma , of what we loved and lost on the UWS, were subsidized to the hilt . They’d been existing on borrowed time as we got used to artificially low price tags . To this day , ZABAR’s is the best bang for the buck because the Zabar’s own their building . Eli’s on the east side charges triple for the same items not because east siders are richer and can afford more but because there’s a rent surcharge with the nova.

      • B.B. says:

        Well yes, the 2008 changes to co-op income by the IRS has caused problems for retail, but that isn’t the whole problem.

        J. Levine and others were smart in that they purchased their property back when values were low. Now they are sitting pretty either way; if the business fails and or whatever they can simply sell or rent out.

        Commercial or residential; whenever you rent there is always the possibility of being priced out. That is just how normal real estate markets function.

    47. Linda says:

      As you-know-who might say, “SAD!”