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“The Cactus Store” Pops Up at 5 Essex St., Alongside Former Schames Paint Building

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3-5 Essex St., June 2017.
3-5 Essex St., June 2017.

It has been seven years since the paint store, M. Schames & Sons, relocated to Delancey Street after its longtime home was destabilized by a neighboring demolition project. It has been five years since 3-5 Essex St., the crumbling building and an empty lot, were sold. Just in the past week or so, there have been signs of life on the vacant parcel.

You may have noticed what’s happening behind that fence to the right of the old paint store. While the team working with building owners was sworn to secrecy, the short-term future of this site has now become apparent. For the next few months, 5 Essex St. will be a pop-up cactus shop.

“The Cactus Store” is a popular destination in Los Angeles. Co-owner Carlos Morera (“The Cactus Man”) was the subject of a profile in the Orange County Register yesterday. An excerpt:

(Morera) has spent the past couple of years editing and designing a photo book spotlighting (his cactus specimens), “Xerophile: Cactus Photographs From Expeditions of the Obsessed” ($65, Hat & Beard Press). It’s a compendium of photography from cactus explorers, spotlighting some of the rarest in the world. Preorders are being taken now, and the book is set to publish next month (hatandbeard.com). The book’s publication coincides with the opening of the Cactus Store’s second location — in New York City’s Chinatown — but only for five months this summer and early fall.

A peek at what’s happening behind the fencing from The Cactus Store’s Instagram:


A post shared by Cactus Store (@hotcactus_la) on

In 2012, 3-5 Essex St. was purchased for about $6 million by the same developers who are restoring the Jarmulowsky Bank Building, one of the architectural jewels of the Lower East Side. DLJ Real Estate Partners has gone back-and-forth on plans for the Jarmulowsky (it could be an office building or a hotel). Several years ago, DLJ signaled that it was in no rush to develop the Essex Street site.


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