Shops Around the Corner

| 02 Mar 2015 | 05:01

Times Square memorabilia brokers keep Broadway alive

According to the New York Times, a massive influx of tourists has made Times Square such a hot retail market that rents have jumped 42 percent in the past year, forcing out local enterprises in favor of multinational chains that can afford the going rate of $2400 per square foot. One such casualty is Julius Rubin, who's catered to theater lovers for 23 years at Broadway New York and Broadway Baby, twowell-loved memorabilia stores in the Times Square Marriott Marquis. Rubin is being forced to close up shop as developers are renovating the hotel to target the tourist trade. (Rumors say the renovation also includes a 25,000-square-foot, 80-foot-high LED that will cover the facade and wrap 50 feet around each side, but the developer is declining to comment. Corpocracy writ bright.)

That's the bad news. The good news is that Rubin has two other stores right around the corner. One Shubert Alley, situated in the famed pedestrian strip originally constructed as a fire exit for the Shubert and Booth Theaters,occupies two hundred square feet that once served as dressing rooms for the likes of Walter Matthau, Henry Fonda, and Blythe Danner. It was the first store to sell Broadway memorabilia outside the theater (times were you had to buy a ticket to the show in order to get the T-shirt). Rubin's other store, Theatre Circle, at 268 West 44th Street, described by Yahoo as "the classiest gift shop in New York City" for its chandeliers and wood molding, followed.

The only brick-and-mortar Broadway merchandising sites located in the heart of the theater district, both One Shubert Alley and Theatre Circle serve Broadway professionals looking for scripts, sheet music, and vocal scores, as well as theater aficionados and, of course, tourists wanting T-shirts and keychains. As the larger of the two stores, Theatre Circle wil absorb the merchandise that survives the closing of Broadway New York.

Rubin is matter-of-fact about the new Times Square. "Times are changing," he says, "and you have to roll with the punches. But," he continues, "the theater district is vibrant, alive, and doing very well, and we want to make sure theatergoers are aware we're still going to be around."

Times Square? Let 'em have it. The real New York will continue to thrive at Julius Rubin's two very classy shops around the corner.