Written by Julia Schweizer & Photographed by Kaitlin McQuaide
St. Marks Place, an East Village street once home to such influential musicians and thinkers as Thelonious Monk, G.G. Allin and Emma Goldman, now seems to attract patrons of Subway, SuperCuts and a score of cheap sushi joints.
For the last 12 years, however, Belarusian cobbler Boris (who chose not to reveal his last name) has found a home on St. Marks where he buys, sells and repairs shoes 7 days a week, for the lowest prices possible. Boris, affectionately known as the “shoe guy,” affords the $4000/month rent of his 100 square foot shop by selling up to 50 pairs of shoes a day for about $15 a pop. Previously enamored with the St. Marks crowd, he says through a thick Russo-Brooklyn accent that now, “it’s just all kinds of hicks from all over the place.” So why not jack up the prices and capitalize off the tourists like every other vendor on the block? “Shoes for everybody!” says Boris with a wide smile upon his face. He adds that he makes shoes, “all the kids can afford—so tell your friends!”
Duly noted. The shop is located at 1 St. Marks Place near 3rd Avenue.