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Giraffes in a Canoe

There are places that are decidedly the other side of the tracks, and Grand Street in SoHo has been one of those places. As SoHo gentrified, Grand Street, only a block from the honky tonk Canal Street, retained a frontier feeling. Rents remained much lower than Prince and Spring streets – prime SoHo. It was here that Broadway Panhandler relocated when their prime SoHo rent became too onerous.
Even today, Grand Street retains vestiges of a former time and businesses that service the working class and industry. At the corner of Thompson Street, one can still find John De Lorenzo & Bro., Iron and Sheet Metal Contractor.  Across from the French Culinary Institute at 458 Broadway was the previous site of the Singer sewing machine company’s first headquarters and showroom, built 1857. At 175 Lafayette and the corner of Grand Street was a supplier that I once frequented often: Rudolph Bass Woodworking Machinery & Supplies, founded 1918. At 183 Grand is the John Jovino Gun Shop, a sole survivor of the gun district near the Centre Street police headquarters. At 176 Grand is the home of Lendy Electric, a classic hard-core New York-style contractor’s supply house.

The street bridges a variety of neighborhoods – SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, and the Lower East Side. The street is home to Ferrara’s Bakery and Kamwo Pharmacy. Heading east through Chinatown, there are numerous Chinese and Vietnamese supply shops and restaurants. Further east, once will find Kossar’s Bialys and the Doughnut Plant. The merchants are a smorgasbord – a worthwhile excursion for any urban explorer. For a virtual walk down Grand Street and as a guide, I recommend NY Songlines.

Tuesday night, a group of us discovered Loopy Mango at 78 Grand Street, strictly by happenstance. This quirky, eclectic retailer came as a very pleasant surprise. The shop sells home goods, furniture, antiques, textiles, clothing, gift, specialty yarns, and knitting and crocheting supplies. The owners, Waejong Kim and Anna Pulvermakher, met in a fabric painting class at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. Loopy Mango was founded in 2004 in a tiny storefront on Avenue B in the East Village. They moved to DUMBO and in 2010, they moved back to Manhattan to their current 2000-square foot shop at 78 Grand Street.

Original 1880 Victorian shutters enclose four dressing rooms and are complemented by a tin ceiling detail. Continuing through the boutique to the backroom, one is greeted by a 15-foot skylight and purpose-built partition encased by replica ionic Roman columns. The interior of the space was designed and built by Waejong and her husband, Eric Schultz, an antiques dealer from Massachusetts. The shop also offers knitting classes and workshops.

For an urban jungle safari, take a long walk down Grand Street. After all, where else do you find a place called Loopy Mango with seven Giraffes in a Canoe?

3 Responses to Giraffes in a Canoe

  1. What a wonderful looking place. I’ll have to grab Louise and give it a go.

  2. It’s on Grand, between Greene and Wooster. Right in our neighborhood!

  3. That looks like the kind of store I’d love to wander through


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