An iconic New York City candy store and its long-time owner are getting some love from the community that it’s served for decades.
Ray’s Candy Store, located at 113 Avenue A in Manhattan’s East Village, has been an NYC staple serving candy, egg creams, beignets, and more since Ray Alvarez opened the store in 1974.
Born Asghar Ghahraman, Ray migrated to the United States from Iran, per The New York Times. After after earning enough money as a waiter he bought the store for $30,000, according to downtown documentarian and influencer, New York Nico. Since then, Ray has manned his shop, even sleeping in the back at times, for nearly 50 years.
Ray and his “Everything Made With Love” signage have been the subject of various features from Humans of New York to chatting with Anthony Bourdain. Now, his community wants to give back to the hardworking business owner.
With his 90th birthday coming up on January 1, a GoFundMe has been organized to throw Ray a birthday bash and honor him with a “sort of Lifetime Achievement Award for Doing Good™ and his contributions to our collective happiness,” the fundraiser reads.
Plus, any additional funding will go to the business, which has been struggling with food and electric costs amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. While many stores have been forced to raise prices or close up, Ray has refused to do that to his loyal customers.
“We want to help Ray stay in business for as long as he wants until he decides to hang up his apron on his terms,” the fundraiser reads.
“Many businesses were unable to survive. We refuse to let that happen to Ray’s! Ray’s Candy Store is the heart of the East Village. If Ray goes, a part of the neighborhood, and a part of New York City, goes with it,” the fundraiser continued. “Together, with your help, we can ensure that Ray’s awning stays lit up, the soft serve machines stay humming, and the deep fried Oreos keep coming! (And, of course, that you can count on hearing Ray shout I LOVE YOUUUUU!!! from his window as you pass by!)”
In just three days, GoFundMe has raised $32,772 with 1.3K donations (at press time) and has already surpassed its original goal of $19,740, which represents the year Ray opened the shop in 1974.