Volume 75, Number 32 | Dec. 28 - Jan. 3, 2005

Villager photos by Clayton Patterson

Above, from left, store owner Aron Bondaroff, Lil’ Wade, Free Simon and Jack Spam at A NY Thing on Hester St. Below, Zia Ziprin of nearby Girls Love Shoes vintage shoes boutique at A NY Thing’s opening party two weeks ago.

Artists and designers on the edge are A NY Thing

By Tien-Shun Lee

At customers’ requests, store helpers hanging out on Saturday at the back of the new Lower East Side shop A NY Thing signed and drew on the backs of T-shirts.

“Aron is a very famous person in Tokyo,” Tesuya Shono, a young man from that city, said of the store’s owner, Aron Bondaroff. “Sometimes he appears in the street magazines in Tokyo, and his skate shop, Supreme, is a very famous shop in Tokyo.”

Bondaroff and his partner, Kiernan “Kay Dog” Costello, opened up their small Hester St. emporium to give an outlet to artists and designers who may have a hard time selling and promoting their creations. On a recent visit, they were surrounded by a group of friends and supporters, including Punk Rock Jake, Free Simon Semen Sperms, Lil’ Wade, Jack Spam and Dave Ortiz, who were helping out with everything from cleaning and D.J.’ing to display cases.

“I used to be a younger kid looking up at older people, and now I’m at the age where young kids are looking up me,” said Bondaroff. “I wanted to create good times… I wanted to make a place where kids can be bright eyed.”

Also known as “Aron the Downtown Don,” Bondaroff, 28, began working at the Lafayette St. skateboard shop Supreme when he was 18 years old. He was the talk-show host/co-producer of the now-defunct cable access show “Kid America Adventure Hour,” which featured a cartoonish cast of characters and drew upon underground New York City elements, including the graffiti and skateboard culture.

Most of the ’zines, CD’s, DVD’s, records, clothing, jewelry and books sold at A NY Thing would be hard to find elsewhere, said Bondaroff. While the store has some items from bygone eras, such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg books, Bondaroff wants to keep it contemporary.

“I’m about what’s going on now,” he said.

The small CD collection comes from music artists who are mixing in their basements now, Bondaroff said. The same goes for the ’zines and the DVD’s — the artists are making them now, he added.

“There’s a million stories to be told about New York City. This one is about the outlaw art form called graffiti [bombing] where your name and the crew you rep is key,” stated one DVD producer on the back of his $10 DVD, entitled “State Your Name.”

Another $10 DVD, “The Cocaine Fiends — The White Dust From Hell!” advertised itself as a “sordid and sensational” story that depicts cocaine’s “addictive dangers and its rampant threat to society.”

’Zines on display without a price included “The Charlie Brown Get Rich Quik Art Book,” and “Karakters” — simple booklets made out of photocopies bound by two staples.

Clothing, including a jean jacket by Joey Semps with a bright graffiti-style painting on the back, leather shoes, corduroy jackets, a fur-lined denim cap and a denim line by the couture fashion designer As Four, tended to be pricey, with tags ranging from $129 to $300.

Bondaroff said he encourages anyone with a project to come down to his store, which is open every day from 12 to 7 p.m.

“Like these earrings — They’re by Nana NY — She’s just a young girl making jewelry in Brooklyn,” he said, pointing to several pairs of earrings with small dice on them.

Clayton Patterson, a Lower East Side documentarian whose “Outlaw Gallery” is displayed at the back of the store, said that A NY Thing is giving a chance for people to get their creations off the streets.

“These people are out there on the edge, and [the store] is giving a chance for people to be legitimate,” he said.

Bondaroff said he chose the Hester St. location on the edge of Chinatown, between Essex and Ludlow Sts., partly because the rent is lower than in other parts of Downtown New York City and partly because he wanted a place without too much foot traffic.

“I wanted to make a statement,” he said. “I know I’m going to survive. This is forever. We’re just going to keep on going.”

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