St. Mark’s Comics, one of the last vestiges of the original downtown punk scene, is set to shutter its East Village storefront at the end of February, concluding its 36-year history in the neighborhood.
The beloved mainstay, which houses an enviable collection of comics and collectables that range from the obscure to the classic, confirmed the news Tuesday evening via a statement on Facebook.
“There are lots of obstacles to running a retail storefront in NYC; too many of them at once to fight,” read the statement.
“I’ve been working 90 hours a week for 36 years,” owner Mitch Cutler told ALL ARTS Tuesday night. “And I no longer have the energy to fight against these obstacles.”
When pressed about the specifics, Cutler stressed that he was not “trying to pick a fight with any of the many contributing factors.”
The closure comes on the heels of a crowdfunding effort that saved Westsider Rare and Used Books from a similar fate just last week. In 2017, St. Mark’s Comics mounted a similar GoFundMe campaign to stave off closure, but Cutler does not plan to launch another fundraiser — though he remains open to generous benefactors.
“We’re at the other side of that now,” he said. “I suppose it is always possible that someone could walk in with a giant pile of money and try to make some sort of arrangement, and I am open to any type of conversation that anyone wants to have, but that’s where we are — unless something out of a TV movie decides to happen, this is how it is.”
On social media, the community responded with an outpouring of gratitude and disbelief, with many citing the store as their first introduction to comics.
One of my first comic shops and one I loved for so long in NYC. I’m trying to be okay with the fact that St. Mark’s is far from what it was in the early 2000’s, but this feels like a blow. 😢 https://t.co/qd6mh6dEIN
— ⧗ Andrea Towers (@_atowers) January 30, 2019
Another sad day for the comics world in New York City, the birthplace of the entire industry, as we lose another great local comics shop. Best of luck to all at St. Mark's Comics https://t.co/03xY8zcP9R
— David Herman (@DHermanStudio) January 30, 2019
I'm so sorry to hear this. I loved St Mark's Comics. (I did the single worst NY signing ever there, almost 30 years ago, because someone thought Halloween during the parade was a good time for a signing at St Mark's Comics. And I still loved it.) https://t.co/4PFUuJtbVw
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) January 30, 2019
“There have been a lot of really great memories. We have always had a terrific staff,” said Cutler, adding that he has attended the weddings of two customers and at least three employees. “Somehow, someway, we did something right to connect with our community and our staff over the past 36 years.”
For now, the store plans to remain open through February, with markdowns on merchandise beginning Jan. 30.
Top Image: St. Mark's Place.