Cheap Jack's Vintage Clothing

Neighborhood: Union Square
Type of Place: Vintage Clothing

Description:
Cheap Jack's is an institution. I remember, as a high school student in the 80s, catching trains into Grand Central from my suburban town to shop there, my friends and I thrilled with the store's inventory and
feeling like the place was our own special find. It wasn't--it had a devoted following long before we found it--but its great merchandise at very fair prices and its low-key mood give visitors the sense that, somehow, it's "theirs." In a few days, though, this shop that so many have claimed as a favorite will be open to none. Rising rents are closing the doors of a business that until now has survived in downtown Manhattan since 1973.

"It's a heartbreaking sign," proprietor Jack Markus says in a press release issued by the store. "Demand for vintage is soaring, but rents are soaring even faster, and only big chains can keep up. The world comes to New York because we're diverse and different, but at this rate, Manhattan will soon look like everywhere else." You said it, Jack. This is a
trend I fight regularly, by patronizing small businesses over chains and seeking out talented under-knows. It's a trend we should all be concerned about, if we want this city to resemble in any way the varied and multifaceted place we originally knew it to be.

Markus is looking for a new location, and I certainly hope he finds one in which Cheap Jack's can thrive (as happened with Coliseum Books). Then future shoppers can claim the store as "theirs," and Markus, a veteran and an immigrant to the states, can keep his business--through which he has not only made his living but done much for charity, by donating clothes to homeless charities and supporting student film and theater productions.

Stop in if you can to say hello in the current location's last days and to dip into the inventory before it's all packed away. On a recent visit, I found Markus organizing the packing while fielding calls from the press and from long-standing customers. In honor of the era in which I discovered Jack's, I took home a vintage Blondie t-shirt and one featuring Boy George, in all his 1984 glory.

If you can't get there by the 20th, check out the web site, www.cheapjacks.com, which will have any news of a future location and will also offer inventory for online purchase. Let's hope this isn't goodbye.
  - Pamela Grossman


Cheap Jack's Vintage Clothing
841 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777-9564
Map

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