Love, Longing and Lingerie at Little Upper West Side Shop

By Carol Tannenhauser

Spoiler alert: if you are Carole Kaufmann, do not read this before you celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Here is Upper West Sider Mark Kaufmann, 85, buying a Valentine’s Day gift for Carole, his wife of 61 years, at Only Hearts on Columbus Avenue between 78th and 79th Streets. The couple has lived in the neighborhood for “50-something years,” Mark said, and he has come to Only Hearts for Valentine’s Day for the past 40, which is how long the store has been open. (It was originally on 73rd Street.)

Only Hearts is also a brand, explained owner and designer Helena Stuart, who attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. “In my first year of business I started designing and sewing intimates in my Upper West Side apartment. Today I work alongside my daughter, Kaya, and we offer lifestyle lingerie, from sexy sweet undies and bralettes to sleepwear, lounge and wear-anywhere wardrobe staples. Everything is proudly manufactured in New York City.

“For the shop I try to buy the best of what other brands have to offer too, and the most beautiful and amusing hearts I can find,” Stuart said. “I’ve been a heart collector since the age of 12.”

Javon Bellamy “just happened to be walking by and saw some things in the window and came in,” he said. Only Hearts is savoring its new visibility. “We sat under scaffolding for the last five years, which was insane,” said Manager Andriette (below), who preferred not to reveal her last name. “It’s like we’re being rediscovered again.”

Bellamy plans to fill the red, heart-shaped basket he bought with “candy and trinkets” for his girl.

This man did not enter the store, but stood outside in the cold gazing in. His wife of 14 years left him last Valentine’s Day, and he has no Valentine this year. “To me, Valentine’s Day is a gimmick,” he said. “If you love somebody, it should be for every day. I loved her every day.”

NEWS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Jane says:

      Carole Kaufmann is a lucky, lucky, lucky lady! Hope they celebrate well today!

    2. PedestrianJustice says:

      Adorable story, well told. Thank you, Carol & WSR!

    3. LIZ says:

      An UWS favorite! Stopped in yesterday! Thanks, Carol, for reminding UWSiders of this neighborhood gem.

    4. UpperBestSide says:

      RIP to legendary UWS store Maxilla and Mandible, which sold pickled Dodo bird hearts in mason jars. I bought one for my wife every Valentines Day for twenty years. Every time she said, “I swear, if you do that one more time, I’m divorcing you.” After twenty years of wedded bliss, she did. Marriage is all about persistence and communication.

    5. Edith Tyson says:

      Great story WSR!! Love 💕 it & shared

    6. Margaret & Max says:

      Serendipity! I woke up this morning thinking about Mark & Carole Kaufmann, wondering how they were; my family and I were their neighbors for almost 40 years and have nothing but fond thoughts of and for them! Wonderful love story: we should all be so lucky!

    7. Marina says:

      I love Only Hearts, and my writing partner and I recently filmed a video for The New Yorker in their SoHo location!

      https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/valentines-day-lingerie-shopping

      They were so kind and accommodating for the film shoot, and have always been SO helpful for any bachelorette-gift-shopping expeditions.

      Hooray Only Hearts!