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A Glimpse of G & S Sporting Goods in 1976, Before the Store Fades Away

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Essex Street, 1976. Image transferred from film by Ranjan Roy.
Essex Street, 1976. Image transferred from film by Ranjan Roy.

If you grew up on the Lower East Side, old images of the neighborhood tend to trigger a flood of memories. But even people who don’t have direct family roots on the LES can feel a connection to the historic section of New York City.  Essex Street resident Ranjan Roy shared with us this image from his block, taken by his dad in 1976.

It surfaced recently after Ranjan began digitizing his parents’ old slides. Most of the photos showed typical tourist attractions, but this one definitely caught his eye as being different from the others. He noticed the sign for G & S Sporting Goods, which is located at 43 Essex St., a few doors from his current apartment. On the particular day the photo was taken, Ranjan learned, his dad was coming from the family home in suburban Boston to visit the discount electronic stores in Chinatown. He liked the way the light hit the cop on horseback, as he was patrolling the cobblestone street. For Ranjan, it was definitely a thrill unearthing an image in the family archives shot on the very same block he now calls home.

Sadly, the G & S Sporting Goods signage won’t be around much longer. The owner of the store, Len Zerling, suffered a stroke several months ago and has decided to close the business after 75 years. Len’s dad, former boxer Izzy Zerling, opened the shop in 1937. You can see our 2009 video feature on G & S Sporting Goods here:

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  1. Am sorry to see them go. I bought a gym bag there about 18 months ago. It was about one third the price as similar ones midtown. And the owner is quite a character – an old New York type of guy who, besides his low prices, made shopping fun and gave his an interesting overview of the Lower East, then and now.

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