Captain gets Amazon truck off blast block; Look out on Lafayette!

Mariann Marlowe, outside her Enz’s 1950s boutique on Second Ave., says the Amazon unloading operation has drastically cut her walk-in business. Photos by Mary Reinholz

BY MARY REINHOLZ | Enz’s retro fashion boutique, located right next to the site of the deadly 2015 East Village gas explosion, has attracted blonde bombshell customers like Jerry Hall, Lauren Hutton and Helen Mirren since opening on the block in 2002.

On Monday, the rockabilly store’s diminutive brunette owner, designer Mariann Marlowe, got a visit and an apology from another blonde who said she represented Cornucopia Logistics, a freight-hauling company with corporate headquarters on E. 42nd St. Cornucopia’s gigantic trucks have hijacked as many as four parking spaces directly outside Marlowe’s store, at 125 Second Ave., between E. Seventh and St. Mark’s Place, since the summer began, setting up a makeshift distribution center on the street and sidewalk to unload packages as a contractor for Amazon, the e-commerce behemoth. Marlowe claims to have lost an estimated $200 a day in revenues because pedestrians couldn’t see her sign from across the street due to the trucks and congestion.

“I have felt like a store inside an IKEA loading zone,” she said.

Marlowe described her visitor from Cornucupia as “very blonde, very corporate, very Hillary Clinton.” She introduced herself as Cathy Taylor (a staff member at Avant Business Services, Cornucopia’s corporate parent) and expressed regret for the company’s truckers parking three or four a hours a day in front of her shop.

“She said they weren’t supposed to do that and promised it would never happen again,” Marlowe related. “She also said, ‘We won’t infringe on any restaurant or retail store again.’ I asked her, ‘Can you compensate me $2,000 for my losses?’ She said, ‘We’ll see.’ She was putting on a nice face. Higher-ups probably told her to make amends.”

Cook Mike Tarabitt at B&H dairy restaurant said the Amazon situation has been bad for all businesses on the block.

Those “higher-ups” were most likely prodded by Captain Vincent Greany, commanding officer of the Ninth Precinct, who listened carefully to Marlowe’s complaints about Amazon’s delivery provider hurting her business during a Sept. 19 Community Council meeting at the E. Fifth St. stationhouse.

The captain set up an outdoor meeting Saturday morning on Second Ave. and E. Seventh St., just steps away from Enz’s. It was a brief meeting, he said, attended by three other Ninth Precinct officers, two of them detectives from community affairs. None of the cops were in uniform.

“I like to hold meetings right at the point of the problem,” Greany noted.

Cornucopia’s representative, whom Greany did not name, agreed to move the company’s operation to the two-block stretch of Lafayette St. between Astor Place and Fourth Ave, where there’s a loading zone — though it is quite a busy spot.

Greany noted that if Cornucopia does need to get to Second Ave. again, “it would only be for about 20 or 30 minutes.” In addition, he said, the Cornucopia rep agreed to meet with Greany and his team once a month to address any problems that might arise.

“Hopefully,” the captain said, “this will lead to a long-term solution, not just a quick fix.”

Small retailers on Marlowe’s block will undoubtedly welcome the news that an Amazon delivery provider will be sharply reducing its presence in the neighborhood. Mike Tarabitt, a longtime cook at B&H vegetarian restaurant, a few doors north of Enz’s, at 127 Second Ave., said the contract truckers have parked on the block “longer than three hours,” overstaying the three-hour limit for commercial vehicles, and have affected the eatery’s business, as well.

At the same time, he noted of the trucking crew, they’re “just guys doing their job,” as required by their bosses. He added that they are still working outside a Capital One branch on Second Ave. near E. 10th St.

Tarabitt said Marlowe’s store bore the brunt of the problem on his block, which he characterized as a “bad situation. It’s not good for anyone,” he said.

Sonam Tenzin, owner of Himalayan Vision, warned that while Amazon might move its distribution zones around the East Village, they won’t stop their disruptive operations.

It’s a situation that The Villager first covered happening in Noho at a Broadway location in August. A recent post by the EV Grieve blog extensively quoted from this newspaper’s account and led with new details about Marlowe’s grievances. Marlowe also had recently posted her grievances as reader comments on the original Villager article.

Sonam Tenzin, owner of Himalayan Vision, a Tibetan store also at 127 Second Ave., said last week that her business had dropped off because of Cornucopia’s workers on her block.

“They were loading on the street,” she said. “They were blocking people right on the sidewalk. Sometimes they would stop in front of me. I try to be compassionate and to understand,” she said of Cornucopia’s mostly minority staff. She added that she hasn’t spoken to any of them, just used “body language” to let them know that she’s watching.

“At first I thought they were [tenants] moving into a building” next to Enz’s, she said. “And I thought, ‘What’s going on? Is Amazon moving here? Why is a big company doing this? It’s never-ending,’ ” she said of the delivery trucks.

“They’re not going to stop,” Tenzin predicted. “They’ll just move to another block” when people complain.

A photo by Enz’s owner Mariann Marlowe of the Amazon curbside distribution operation that was set up outside her store until the Ninth Precinct’s commander intervened. Photo by Mariann Marlowe

For its part, Amazon, which has headquarters in Seattle, appears to be open to complaints about its so-called “independent delivery providers.” Ernesto Aprezo, a spokesperson, called this reporter on Sunday for a talk that he insisted be off the record, later e-mailing a formal statement: “We take this feedback seriously and continue to work with our independent delivery provider as they address this matter,” he wrote, alluding to Cornucopia.

Amazon Customer Service is available 24 / 7 at 1-888-280-4331. This reporter’s efforts to talk directly to Cornucopia distribution workers on Second Ave. and its corporate parents at Avant Business Services were unavailing.