Our friends at Narratively have a great in-depth piece on one of the official shoe shiners of the Grand Central Partnership and it reminded us of the makeshift shoe shine stand on 6th Avenue we photographed back in December. And we took a look at whether shoe shining stands like this one need licenses from the city to operate.
The stand at 47th Street and 6th Avenue, just in front of the Diamond District, uses humorous homemade signs to draw in customers (albeit with some grammatical errors). “The Shoe’s Don’t Lie” and “Now get it over with, they don’t to them self’s.” They offer a corporate “Pro-Mo” for hanging your logo on the sign, and discounts (spelled Corpate Discounts). The savvy businessman also has package deals: $500 for a “Platinum” lifetime shoe shine deal, $100 for “Gold” one year’s worth of shoe shine, a monthly “Silver” deal for $30. The $100 yearly is also called the “Economy Special.” There’s a one-hour drop off service, and they do more than shoes: you can bring any kind of leather and you can even change the color. Even the transportable shoe shining stand, known as a “bootblack,” is ingenious–portable and functional.
It got us wondering also about the legality of the shoeshine guy setting up here. Turns out, despite Robert Moses’ best attempts to remove shoe shiners from New York City (apart from the dense central business districts like Midtown), after 1992, shoe shiners didn’t need a license to operate at all according to the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. Licenses are required to sell or display fruits, vegetables, soft drinks, cigars, cigarettes, tobacco, confectionary and ice cream.
For now, we’re glad there aren’t regulations on this disappearing business–because this little stand puts a smile on our face every time we walk by.