On Sunday 14 February, the day before I departed to Vienna, I walked through Greenwich Village running my usual pre-trip errands before jumping back into a late-night editing session to fine-tune my condom workshops in the 6 UN languages.  I wished a Happy Valentines Day to and picked up my essentials from the wonderful people at Kiehl’s, Life Thyme Market and Bigelow Pharmacy; and while I was in the West Village, I stopped on the corner of Greenwich Avenue and 10th Street to visit the Village Paper Party Store.

As you may have read, this store suffered from a terrible fire on Wednesday morning, and Valentines Day was the first opportunity for me to make my way to the West Village to see it for myself.

When I worked for Condomania (whose flagship store was formerly on Bleecker Street, between 10th and Charles), I used to frequent the Village Paper Party Store every time we re-decorated the window with a new display.  I visited them for glittery accessories to celebrate the New Year; hearts and cupids for Valentines Day; flowers and faux grass for the coming of spring; red-white-and-blue streamers for the 4th of July; pumpkins and skeletons for Halloween; autumnal leaves to welcome the fall; and faux snow and pine cones for the winter holidays.

When The TORCH Program needed raffle tickets for their annual Benefit & L.I.G.H.T. Awards , I have always bought them from the Village Paper Party Store.  The store has also been my quintessential stop for last-minute balloons, greeting cards, wrapping paper and costume accessories.  The people working there are always so kind, answering any questions, offering help and often keeping a tab for the regular customers who happened to be short on cash that day.

I have been thinking about the family who owns this store since I first read about the terrible fire.  My heart goes out to them now, as I am sure that the Valentines holiday was usually a fruitful one for their business.  I want them to know that other loyal customers like myself are wishing them only the best and waiting patiently until they re-open and we can bring our business to them again.

I moved to New York in 1997, and I have always made a concious effort to patronize small, family-owned shops like the Village Paper Party Store.  In recent years, and especially in this economic downturn, I have seen too many small busniesses like it – Condomania, Kim’s Video, Mikey’s Pet Shop – close and give way to larger corporations like Sunglasses Hut or Juicy Couture.  In many instances, the stores will simply remain an empty, out-of-business shell – a sight too often seen now in Greenwich Village.

This post is a belated Valentine to the Village Paper Party Store and other family-owned businesses like it.  I love you for giving Greenwich Village its character and making it a place where I could not wait to settle down.  I love you for your strength and perseverance to move forward despite rising rents,  changing tastes, pressure from the wealthy and unbearable disasters such as this fire.  I love you for keeping me humble, always connected to my grass roots and the history of where I live.  I love you for never failing to remind me what it is to live in a neighborhood and be a part of a community.

Artwork by Laura Dapito

Artwork in my home, by Laura Dapito

I am sending all of my love this Valentines Day to the underdogs, the spirit that made Greenwich Village a bohemian destination!  Wishing you only the very best and confidently awaiting your joyous return…

Always yours,
Joy Lynn