The East Village’s Gem Spa first opened in the 1920s on the corner of St. Mark’s Place and 2nd Avenue and received its current moniker in the 1950s. The shop became famous when it was frequented by Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg and featured in a painting by Jean-Michelle Basquiat and then later as an all-night punk hangout and tourist stop for egg creams. Today, however, the store is struggling to stay afloat due to the ever-increasing gentrification of the neighborhood and losing its cigarette and lottery licenses in the spring. In an effort to save the icon, small business advocacy group #SaveNYC is hosting a cash mob this Saturday. In preparation, a faux storefront was installed that reads “Schitibank coming soon,” in reference to rumors that Citibank is trying to take over the storefront.
st. marks place
Google Street View of St. Mark’s Comics
After 36 years as a cultural anchor of what was once an alternative lifestyle mecca, St. Mark’s Comics will be closing up shop at the end February. As Gothamist reports, the cluttered and beloved icon is among the rear guard of an exodus in recent years–Trash & Vaudeville and Kim’s Video have also vacated the neighborhood-defining strip–that basically ends an era on St. Mark’s Place.