10 Years on, ‘By Robert James’ Fights for its Survival on Orchard Street
Upscale men’s haberdasher, By Robert James, is on its last legs. Fighting for survival a mere three weeks shy of its tenth anniversary on Orchard Street.
Due to exhorbitant rent costs and mounting factory debts – goods are manufactured in Manhattan – eponymous owner Robert James has taken to GoFundMe for relief. The crowdfunding campaign sets a seemingly impossible goal of cobbling together $25,000 this week. So far, close to $6,000 has been raised.
We’re told that By Robert James has a Net Lease at 74 Orchard Street, which means they must cover property taxes and insurance, in addition to rent on the commercial space. Not to mention, the business also has debts to Garment Center shops where the inventory is manufactured.
“Just 3 weeks from completing our 10th year of serving our customers, factories and the Lower East Side community we find ourselves fighting to keep our doors open,” the GoFundMe appeal reads. “If we can’t raise this money a true American Made craftsman will be gone, and New York’s Garment Center will lose yet another one of its most passionate advocates and manufacturing dollars.”
Just as the window is closing, there is mention of expansion. “We have just been given an opportunity to grow our company 10 fold in the next 12 to 18 months by completely revamping our marketing and e-commerce,” James says. “Help us avoid being yet another empty vessel where once was a vibrant small business once flowed.”
By Robert James opened at 72 Orchard Street in 2008. Three years later, it upsized to the larger location next door, in what was previously the Hyper Island digital media school. The Great Frog rock-n-roll jewelry store later took its place.