Essex Card Shop is family owned and it’s now unrecognizable after the blaze destroyed just about everything.
“Having your dreams burn down right in front of your eyes….it’s hard,” Saba Aslam said.
The Aslam family has poured their hearts and souls into making their business different for decades, and that kind of New York City shop where you could find just about anything.
But Monday, as Muhammad Aslam arrived to Avenue A with loads of new merchandise, he watched as the fire started and would not stop.
Firefighters got there as soon as they could, but by then the shop that was open every day — from 8 to 8, even as the city shut down for COVID — it was gone.
“All I saw were firetrucks and fire and smoke…it was a lot to digest,” Mehnaz Noreen said.
But from the ashes came something beautiful. Loyal customers posted, calling it a beloved institution and the heart and soul of the neighborhood.
So far a GoFundMe has raised more than $50,000, which is money they will use to rebuild.
For Muhammad, a married father of four who came to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1991, this was his treasure
Everyone is simply overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.
“How beautiful is that for a community who doesn’t look at your ethnic background, your religious background, who doesn’t care about what political team you’re on, who doesn’t care about everything that’s dividing people, it’s like none of the community members care about that and they just care about this store that was part of their live,” Saba Aslam said.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.