It's the kind of place where a person can totally escape this world and enter a different one -- full of toys, comics, graphic novels, science fiction, books, games and posters. It’s Forbidden Planet in the East Village, a fixture in the neighborhood for nearly four decades.
- LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus in New York City
- LIVES LOST: Remembering Victims of the Coronavirus
- What to Do If You Test Positive for COVID-19
- CDC Coronavirus Page
- WHO Coronavirus Page
“When I was a kid, it was ahead of everything else that was out there and I like to think that we still are," General Manager Jeff Ayers says.
Ayers should know. The Bronx-native started coming to the store on Broadway as a customer when he was 11, and then began working here in 1995. The shop closed six weeks ago even before the stay-at-home rules went into effect.
With the doors locked and no customers, Forbidden Planet has begun a GoFundMe campaign to make sure this Village institution survives this pandemic. Right now they are trying to get by with online and mail order business.
“There's still a store that makes certain money, that needs to make that money in order to survive, and online just can't cut the mustard for that for the moment, and we want to stick around," Ayers said.
The store has had to furlough much of its staff, which numbers more than 20, but hopes to rehire them when New York gets back on its feet.
Ayers says they originally resisted the GoFundMe route, but the reality is the world keeps turning. "We're still paying rent,” says Ayers. “There's no change in that.”
There are other bills due coming up. Ayers also says there are past invoices, expenses, and moving to a warehouse model. “There's when and if we open again, there will be all sorts of different ways we need to change," Ayers said.
Ayers says fans of the store from around the world have been generous, which he feels says a lot about the impact Forbidden Planet has had in its almost 40 years on our planet.
“It breaks my heart with love how many people have sent even just $5 and a great message," Ayers notes. "We want to be here for a long time to come.”
Ayers says there's no other place quite like Forbidden Planet, and the response to the campaign shows that.