Moscot finds a new home on the Lower East Side for its flagship store


After 106 years, MOSCOT, the eyewear institution founded in a cart on Orchard Street at the turn of the 20ecentury, will no longer pay rent. The family business run by the fourth and fifth generation has taken over a piece of New York real estate and moved the brand’s flagship store to 94 Orchard Street. Although this is the fourth location on the Lower East Side, this is the first time that we have owned the building that houses the company. As the optics empire takes root further in the famous immigrant residential district turned into a trendy food and shopping district, its global reach expands with the opening of a store during the pandemic and two other international sites that are slated to open next month.

“Our DNA is here on Orchard Street,” says Zack Moscot, Director of Design. He and his father, CEO Dr Harvey Moscot, were on hand to showcase the open space days earlier. He adds, “Now we’re at 94 Orchard Street, and my great-great-grandfather Hyman went from the cart to the first store, located at 94 Rivington in 1915, so it’s like coming full circle.” The new 1,800 square foot store also houses the optical finishing lab and corporate headquarters.

Elder Moscot Harvey reckons the brand may have spent millions on rent in today’s dollars. He reminds us that owning real estate hasn’t always been the hot game it is today. “During the Depression, my grandfather Sol, who was one of the first licensed opticians in New York City, was offered four different buildings just to take care of the payments, as the owners were trying to save their credit and save money. stand with banks. ” Family traditions like this and other missed real estate opportunities helped motivate the decision to buy the property.

A UNIQUE VIEW

Optics was then and is an essential profession. The Moscots have made it a destination and a style experience by drawing on one of today’s rarest products; family and full of authenticity. This is seen in the store’s designs replicating the world by displaying handpicked antiques that once graced the location of 118 Orchard Street.

Harvey’s father, Joel (third generation son of Sol, who was Hyman’s son), was an avid collector of art and tchotchkes – banned from the store by his wife – which are now charming paintings grouped together with old optical equipment, books and mannequin heads carrying frames. There are images of the stores of the first three Moscot generations and scenes of the busy shopping street throughout the store. Original tongue-and-groove chairs from 1936 that served as waiting room chairs are used at the back of the shop. The wooden displays and eyeglass storage drawers used in Orchard Street’s first store are still in circulation. A decorative pewter ceiling once de rigueur in Lower East Side buildings projects along the yellow-painted ceiling flanked by exposed brick walls, both paying homage to old New York City. It’s a recipe recreated in stores around the world in places like London, Rome, Milan, Paris, Seoul and Tokyo.

PANDEMIC surge

The pandemic has been both a challenge and an opportunity. “Covid was an educational time as I spent a lot of time negotiating with owners around the world because our stores were closed and foot traffic was down 80 to 90 percent,” Harvey recalls, noting that some owners were accommodating while others would not budge. The latter had been the owner on the corner of Delancey and Orchard, where the store had been located since 2013 after spending 77 years at 118 Orchard Street.

“We have moved the ‘metaphorical cart’ a number of times because we were beholden to the owners,” Harvey said. As a teenager, he worked for “beer money” in the family business on weekends, which allowed him to spend time with his grandfather Sol and absorb the wise wisdom of the trade. “We bought this building to secure our fate,” adds Harvey.

Just as MOSCOT’s cutting edge optical business still operates like the good old days, so has the real estate transaction. Harvey mentioned to former patient and Lower East Side real estate owner Mark Miller his growing impatience with the landlord’s situation when Miller proposed that the 94 Orchard apartment building, owned by an older couple who have lost tenants. during the pandemic, could be put on the market. A deal was struck between the two families and the Moscots got the building earlier this year.

HISTORICAL SPIRIT

The Lower East Side store was still the busiest of all the locations and somewhat of a destination for the neighborhood that has one of New York’s hottest brunch spots – Broome and Orchard – an indication there is no didn’t need to worry about the move. But giving up another coveted corner location at 108 Orchard, a cornerstone of the brand for 85 years, has caused angst for Harvey and several other family members. “My dad Joel came over on Saturday and said, ‘How did you get out of the area? You’re making a mistake.’ The previous owner warned we would go bankrupt; OMG, sleepless nights, “Harvey laments.

“The younger generation told us to relax and that the young people only use their phones; no one looks up when walking down the street, ”Harvey continued. To that end, the brand was well prepared for the digital evolution that became crucial during the pandemic, having upgraded the website in 2018. “We were growing digitally and investing in it, but the pandemic has supercharged it.” , notes Zack, who said their virtual fitting system works at a precise scale for a precise fit. He maintains, however, that for new clients in particular, it is still a matter of human contact. Harvey points to the Retinal camera which takes a wide-field retinal photo and Dr. Betsey Chin, who also treats eye conditions. “We juxtapose the latest technology with our history.”

They had just signed the Amsterdam site when the pandemic hit but were able to open it, albeit a few months later. In December, two more stores will open in Toronto and Copenhagen, expanding the global reach of opticians over 100 years old. Geographical diversity was a plus for the company as regions abroad were affected at different times, some stores could still operate.

It is clear that while there is a wholesale component to the brand, that is not the goal, according to Zack, unless it is a store within a point of sale. leading. “There is so much to do in the wholesale business because you don’t control it unless you are prepared to disparage your brand because there are only a few A-plus stores in it. which ones to be. ” The Moscot store experience cements the affinity for the brand. The new store is right across the street from the Tenement Museum, with history literally facing each other. Becoming owners will ensure that history is not only preserved, but thrives.


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