Pearl River Mart is a three-level department store you wouldn’t expect to see on the busiest, most tourist-heavy, bustling street in the heart of Soho’s retail center.
On Broadway Street near Broome Street, Pearl River Mart finds itself next to a LuLuLemon, across from a Topman and Chase bank and a few steps from big international brands like Bloomingdales, CB2, Uniqlo, David Bitton’s Buffalo and Madewell
Somehow Pearl City Mart has paid the rent by selling more traditional Chinese goods such as paper lanterns, mats, tea pots, brocade jackets and Buddha statues along with quirky unique pieces you’d find in a hipster pop-up in Williamsburg — expandable plastic vases, paper dragons, wind-up robots, Peking masks, stylish Chinese take-out boxes and Mao coin banks — all at reasonable prices.
Pearl River Mart originally opened on Elizabeth Street in 1971 and was previously located at the corner of Broadway and Canal before moving a bit north.
Between the Chinatown-ish prices (read: cheap) and 30,000 of the most-coveted square footage in Manhattan, something had to give. Unfortunately, that means the end of Pearl River Mart in Soho — the iconic, 44-year old store will close sometime at the end of the year.
Pearl River’s current monthly rent of $100,000 has been reported to increase five-fold to a half-million. That’s like selling 500,000 one dollar lucky cat figurines every month just to break even.
And while the building owner claimed to Crain’s that he is still negotiating with Pearl River Mart to stay on a single floor at 477 Broadway, (the owners) said (they are) already looking for a smaller home south of Canal Street, where rents go for around $80 per square foot (the Real Estate Board of New York says rents closer to Houston Street are more than ten times that).
Back in April when the closing was announced, there were talks of a reincarnation. However, when I stopped into the store today, I asked a cashier if they were moving to another space after their lease was up and he plaintively responded “probably not”.
Doesn’t sound good.
Either way, I plan on going back to Pearl River at least a few more times before 2015 closes; a small part of it will be because I want to take in as much of the store before it’s gone, but mostly, Pearl River is one of those unique stores (like Surprise! Surprise!) that actually offered items where you’ll turn and excitedly say to your friend “Look at this!” more than a few times.
If you haven’t been, I suggest you head over to Pearl River Mart before it shuts down at the end of December.
If you want to know more about Pearl River Mart, read this piece in Open City Mag.
Pearl River Mart
477 Broadway Street
New York, NY 10013
between Broome Street & Grand Street