It’s a big blow for the Essex Street Market. On Saturday, a letter went up alongside Saxelby Cheesemongers’ stall announcing that the business, a stalwart in the historic public market, would be closing its Lower East Side location at the end of this month. What’s more — Anne Saxelby — chief advocate for the vendors over the past decade — will not be making the move to the new Essex Street Market next year. She’s keeping a retail space at the Chelsea Market and bolstering her successful wholesale business, which is based in Brooklyn.
Here’s what Saxelby wrote:
I want to reach out personally and let you know that due to certain business pressures and personal circumstances Saxelby Cheesemongers at the Essex Market will close on Sept. 30, 2018 and will not be opening in the new location.
I realize that this will come as a surprise, as I’ve personally devoted many years to this project, advocating for the market and its vendor community. However, over the past few years our sales in the market have declined precipitously. After much reflection it is clear to me that I would be unwise to proceed with opening this store as it could jeopardize the future of Saxelby Cheesemongers.
It is not easy to run a small business in New York (or anywhere for that matter!) And while I feel very attached to the Essex Market, I have to be pragmatic and put the sustainability of my business, our employees’ livelihood and the 50+ farms we support first.
I want to apologize for the timing of this message – so close to the market’s move and opening. My partner and I have been exploring every alternative to this conclusion, but at this time we cannot commit to going forward with opening in the new market. I am very sad about this and do not take it lightly… for the past 12 years the market has been our flagship, our base and our community, and I am very proud of what we built at Essex. The community of vendors, friends, neighbors and customers is unlike any other in New York, and it has been amazing to be part of this community. The Essex Market was, is and will continue to be an amazing, historic, one-of-a-kind destination in New York City, and I wish the new market nothing but the greatest success.
Saxelby Cheesemongers will continue to operate in the Chelsea Market, and we will continue our wholesale operations from our base in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Thank you for your understanding. It has been an amazing run, and I will dearly miss being part of the Essex Market community.
Saxelby opened her little shop in the Essex Street Market in 2006. In focusing on American farmstead cheese, she celebrated small, regional farms and won the respect of New York’s culinary community. Today, Saxelby supplies some of the best restaurants in the city.
In the market, she was first in a wave of merchants who brought new energy to Essex Street. She fought valiantly to save the market when the city vowed to tear in down as part of the Essex Crossing project (then referred to as SPURA). Having lost that battle, Saxelby refocused her energies on protecting her fellow vendors. She was instrumental in the creation of the Essex Street Market Vendor Association. Saxelby was an outspoken critic of the Economic Development Corp., which operates the market, before a deal was struck between the vendors and the city a couple of years ago, and the two sides began working more closely to address concerns about both the existing facility and the new one.
The existing vendors will be moving over to the new market next spring (the move was recently pushed back from next month due to construction delays). The Essex Crossing developers are paying for the buildout of the new stalls, and covering moving expenses. While the vendors are paying the same price-per-square-foot in the new facility, most will incur more expenses because they chose to take larger spaces (Saxelby’s stall would have been 300 sf as opposed to 115 sf in the existing building).
Vendors, in general, have struggled in recent years, due to a drop in foot traffic. Several shops have closed, unable to hold out long enough for the move to the glitzy facility across the street.