Andres, Your Neighborhood Handyman

Posted on: July 21st, 2010 at 6:22 am by

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Walk by the corner of Rivington and Ludlow Streets on any given day, and you will likely encounter an older gentleman who is surrounded by woodworking tools and random furniture in need of repair.  His name is Andres, and he is your trusty neighborhood handyman.  The guy to fix all of your busted worldly possessions, right there on an always-bustling sidewalk of Hell Square!

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Andres has some sort of arrangement with the Felix Tailor Shop at 97 Rivington, occupying their cellar as base of operations.  During the warmer months, he organizes his wares on the steps to the lot formerly known as the First Roumanian-American Congregation Synagogue. Every day.  Neighborhood residents drop off all sorts of items for a quick repair job – dressers, chairs, bicycles, couches, etc.  And he sits on that staircase, chatting with the neighborhood and with his buddies from the tailor shop.  Some people walk by his sidewalk workshop and ask about prices, while others stop and say hello.  But most tend to sidle past without even flinching.  We walk into Felix for more background on the guy, and the tailor whistles him over; we begin talking.

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Our conversation is brief. Speaking through a heavy accent, we immediately learn that Andres is an old-school wheeler-dealer. A hustler.  After some pleasantries and introductions, he tries to unload a cheap mirror.  “That’s a good mirror, brand new back.  Thirty dollars,” he says.  We’re not interested.  “Okay, for you, $25. The glass is all new. You see.”  We kindly decline the offer, and instead ask for a business card. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a card for George Upholstery, claiming it’s his son’s shop.  Scribbled on the flip-side in black ink is Andres’ own contact info.

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Still intrigued, and now with a new lead, we head over to George Upholstery, the charming below-grade furniture fix-it shop at 153 Ridge Street. The proprietor for whom the store is named greets us at the entrance, and he recoils at the mention of Andres. “No, I don’t know why he keeps saying that he’s my father, Jesus Christ. I keep telling him not to say that. He talks shit like crazy.” We figure that the fib is a piggyback ploy for more business.  And George confirms our hunch when he reveals that Andres shows up once a week with upholstery gigs, “which he doesn’t know how to do.”

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Their tenuous relationship notwithstanding, the respect is still there.  George admires how Andres is still out there on the street passionately fixing stuff at his age, yet wonders aloud why he doesn’t retire. He loves it too much: “I guess if he retired he’d drop dead.”

So next time you need your junk fixed, know that Andres is there, ready to haggle.

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