Longtime customer Rommel Cintron in the 79th Street store. Photo: Jason Cohen
A store that has been a mainstay on the Upper West Side for more than three decades will be shuttering its doors on Monday.
On Dec. 17, Curated by Goodwill at 217 West 79th Street is closing after 35 years at that location.
Manager Amanda Stevens told the West Side Spirit that the store's lease was up at the end of the month and the landlord was going to increase their rent by more than half of what it is now.
Stevens explained that in order for them to stay afloat, they would have to sell double the merchandise just to break even.
“It kind of sucks,” said Stevens, who has been with the company for four years and at the 79th Street store since January. “We've had a lot of mixed emotions.”
In July, the company changed the name to Curated by Goodwill, essentially rebranding the store. That created a buzz in the community, Stevens said. With this new concept, the staff helps shoppers pick out an entire outfit and the store now offers trendier clothes. Goodwill also has Curated stores in Paramus, N.J. and Brooklyn.
“We found it [Curated] hard in the beginning, but now since people keep coming back, they understand the concept a little bit more,” Stevens said. “The number one thing we try to focus on is helping people.
“We've gotten new customers and made more money, but it's just not enough to sustain rent,” she added.
According to Stevens, the plan is to relocate the inventory and staff to the Goodwill Chelsea store at 103 West 25th Street, at Sixth Ave. and convert it to a Curated location. If people can't travel that far, there is another Goodwill nearby at 157 West 72nd Street, between Amsterdam and Columbus.
Customers Rommel Cintron and Tim Markewich, who both work in the area, spoke about their fondness for the store.
Cintron recalled how when he moved to New York City four years ago from Puerto Rico he had never heard of a place like Goodwill.
“It's the first time I saw how New Yorkers do donations and resell things,” Cintron said. “I was surprised because where I come from in Puerto Rico, we don't see that.”
Since he walked in the store a few years ago he has been hooked. He comes a few times a week and always finds good bargains.
Markewich, of Jackson Heights, first came to Goodwill on 79th a couple years ago to buy a belt and ended up getting a pair of shoes as well. He said he has been to other Goodwill locations, but the friendly staff at this one has kept him coming back.
“It's a shame to see them go,” Markewich said. “But the rent is crazy. Unfortunately, that's how the corporate world works.”