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Ray's Candy Store
Photograph: Ray's Candy Store

Help iconic New Yorker Ray Alvarez of Ray's Candy Store celebrate his 90th birthday

Plus: how to keep his shop from closing.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Two years ago, New Yorkers wished legendary figure Ray Alvarez, the owner of downtown institution Ray's Candy Store, a happy 88th birthday with a special video.

This year, though, the urgency to celebrate Alvarez has kicked up a notch: not only is the store proprietor turning 90 years old, but he's in peril of losing the shop that he's been manning for nearly 50 years—a fact that doesn't shock us given the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current levels of inflation.

In true New York fashion, citizens have rallied behind Alvarez, setting up a GoFundMe page to help him raise $19,740. We're delighted to report that, in just a few days, the initiative has garnered a staggering $50,652. A round of applause! 

According to the New York Post, Alvarez pays about $6,185 in monthly rent but had to borrow $10,000 from two sisters, one 74 years old and the other 64 years old, who work for him to keep up with all his payments.

"After he burned through that, Alvarez borrowed $1,000 from a friend," reports the paper. "But when he needed more cash, the next pal Alvarez asked said he couldn’t lend him any money but could set up a GoFundMe page. The friend has requested anonymity."

As explained on the fundraising page, Ray's Candy Store has been open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year since 1974, serving egg creams, fries and shakes to "regular" New Yorkers and the likes of the late Anthony Bourdain, Madonna, Bruce Willis and more. The potential closure of the space would be a blow to all types of current and former customers. 

"With your support, 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," reads the GoFundMe page. "Any additional funds raised will go directly to Ray to help keep his doors open and his bills paid! Running a small business in New York City, and all across America, for that matter, has become a herculean task. The recent pandemic and the economic pain it has wrought brought many restaurants and other small businesses to their knees. Ray’s food costs have soared. His energy bills have doubled. And Ray refuses to double his prices to make up for it because he would never do that to his loyal customers."

Although the initial goal has already been met, contributing to the cause certainly feels like an only-in-New-York way to pay it forward during the festive holiday season.

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