'Losing Personal Contact': The Closing of Three Greenwich Street Stores

Scout awaits a treat from Corinne Van Plaar, left, and Yvonne Fox at Dudley's Paw. Fox opened the store in 1992. "I'm going to miss this store, I'm going to miss these two," said Scout's owner, Brad Learmonth. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib 

Apr. 25, 2019

As he has for the past 10 years, Brad Learmonth walked into Dudley’s Paw on a recent morning, his two dogs in tow.

“How are you?” Corinne Van Plaar called out from behind the pet store counter.

“Sad,” Learmonth replied, as his dog Scout lifted her paws against the counter in anticipation of a treat.

“I know,” said Van Plaar.

“I know,” echoed store owner Yvonne Fox, who opened her Tribeca shop at 327 Greenwich St. in 1992, and now has to close at the end of the month. “We all are. The dogs, the people.”

“This is happening in every neighborhood,” Fox added. “The small stores are disappearing.”

A neighboring trio of shops, Dudley’s Paw, Tribeca Wines & Spirits, and Myoptics, an eyewear store, are victims of the sale of 325-327 Greenwich Street, near the corner of Duane. (A fourth store, the former Cornerstone Grill, was already vacant.) They are only the latest of many neighborhood closings decried by local residents, not least of which is the big white box of a space across the street that used to house Best Market.

In January, Rudd Realty Management Corp. bought the five-story building from Peter Matera, whose family had long owned it, for a reported $7.3 million. According to a source, the new owners plan to turn the four ground-floor spaces into a restaurant.

Joshua Greenberg, a Rudd Realty principal, did not respond to requests for comment on the future of the building or the retail spaces.

“My customers are very angry about what’s happening because the neighborhood is not remaining a neighborhood where you have a lot of different choices of where to shop,” Fox said. “We’re losing that. We’re losing personal contact with our neighbors. It’s the people who make it a community.” At age 82, Fox said, she had expected to retire at the end of the year, but lamented, “I never thought that I would end up closing this way.”

“I’m going to miss the store. I’m going to miss these two,” Learmonth said of shopkeepers Van Plaar and Fox. “And just the vibe. The vibe is great. This is old New York.”

Tribeca Wines & Spirits will remain in the neighborhood, in a smaller space on West Broadway, pending approval by the State Liquor Authority. But manager Chuck Beltran, who started with the current store when it opened in 1996, said it won’t be the same. “I don’t think West Broadway is as trafficked a street,” said Beltran, seated next to a display of some of the store’s most select wines. “I can’t tell you how many people pass by and just wave. I don’t think I’m going to have that, ‘Hi, how are ya,’ as they go by.”

Beltran is so friendly with those local long-time customers, he said, that some will even stop by to introduce him to their parents who are in from out of town. “And I say to the parents, ‘Just because I know your son or daughter doesn’t mean I see them a lot,’” he said with a smile. “But I think it’s a compliment that I also know family members.”

“The kids I’ve known around here since they were 2 or 3 years old, now they’re in their teens,” said David Espada, the manager of  Myoptics for the past 14 years. “They're coming in to say bye to me, telling me that they’re sad.”

With the closing of Dudley’s Paw and Myoptics, the stores’ well-liked, veteran sales people will be out of a job. Corrine Van Plaar, who has worked at Dudley’s Paw for 12 years, said she hopes to build her cat-sitting business. Espada said Mypotics will only be selling online, so he is unsure of his future. “I’ve got my resume out,” he said.

Send comments to editor@tribecatrib.com.


These businesses cared about the neighborhood

The article about the 3 businesses in Tribeca having to close or move is heartbreaking; especially with the Tribeca Film Festival currently being held. The festival was started to bring people back to Tribeca after 9/11 and all of these businesses opened or re-opened because they cared about the neighborhood and wanted to see it thrive again. Since that time the greed of landlords has turned Tribeca into one big "For Rent/Lease" sign. Our politicians should stand up for small business owners. How many residential buildings does the downtown area need? — SHERRI ROSEN


Corinne Van Plaar of Dudley's Paw was warm and welcoming

My very dear friend, Corinne Van Plaar has worked at Dudley’s Paw for the last 12.5 years and has created a warm and welcoming place for patrons with their beloved pets. She has welcomed them with treats, a place for the animals to look forward to and enhanced a true sense of community. On the side, she has been cat sitting for people in the neighborhood while securing  a feeling of Trust that their loved pets are being well taken care of while they are away. I think she should be publicly awarded for the genuine care she has done over the years. — EMILY STEIN