BY BOB KRASNER | Gem Spa’s got problems, but local support is not one of them. The classic East Village corner store is facing an existential financial crisis, as this paper reported last month.
In response, store manager Parul Patel has found a new stream of income selling store-related merchandise. The instantly recognizable Gem Spa logo is only on T-shirts now, but they have proved to be so popular that Patel is branching out: Hats, tote bags, coffee mugs, sweatpants, hoodies, egg cream glasses and more will be available in the coming weeks.
In addition, artists are stepping up, as well. Noted East Village photographer Godlis pitched in recently by donating prints of Madonna pictured in front of the iconic bodega in 1984 filming “Desperately Seeking Susan.” He spent a couple of hours signing prints and regaling happy customers with tales of the neighborhood back in the day, when he was hanging out at CBGB shooting the images that are now collected in his monograph “History Is Made at Night.”
Though, at the moment, the shop is not selling cigarettes or lottery tickets — formerly steady revenue streams — you can still (and should) get an egg cream. The traditional vanilla and chocolate are available, as well as newer flavors, such as mango, creamsicle, nutella and blueberry, to name a few. And if you’re a vegan, they are happy to make yours with almond milk.
The store’s new Web site is not up yet, but you can look for announcements on their Instagram, @besteggcream, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gemspabesteggcream/ .