For all of you out there who claim to yearn for that “old school” New York City experience, or for anyone looking to have one of those ‘I can’t believe that just happened’ New York encounters, I recommend patronizing Boris Shoes at Queens Plaza North – in the Plaza, 2nd floor, on the same level as the entrance to the 7/N/Q subway at Queensboro Bridge just over the bridge.

Let me clarify: I actually don’t recommend Boris Shoes (unless you’re an Experience Hunter like myself). But! If you must, if you have a shoe that needs repair, and want an experience that is unlike any other, that reminds you of that “old school New York” gestalt, then yeah go to Boris Shoes! This guy has been making shoes from scratch for 58 years, and has been at this Long Island City location for longer than I’ve been an independent pay-my-own-rent adult. But be warned: making eye contact with Boris (his right eye, not his left one – like I said I warned you) means your soul – your sole rather – is his. He now owns you. Just the mere act of pulling a shoe out of bag means its his now. And anything he does to it you’re responsible to pay for, even if you didn’t ask for it – otherwise why did you bring him a shoe in the first place? Also he’ll tell you stories. Wonderful stories about young whippersnappers who bring him shoes to fix and never come back to pick them up. It’s a mystery why! But this guy is an artisan. Check out his shoes outside his shop and you’ll see what he’s capable of. Also he himself is always wearing a bitchin’ pair of homemade shoes.

And the real shame? The owner of the Queens Plaza currently has 23,000 sq. ft. of available retail space, and is kicking Boris and a nearby barber and some other shops out soon – even though he doesn’t have another tenant to move in. Boris doesn’t have the security of a lease, and so it’s time to go. Development at the Plaza is booming, and so clearly the landlord thinks he can get a pretty penny in the near-future or far-future if he deals with these tenants now.

PS – he’s Russian. Been in America longer than me. I recommend you learn a couple Russian expressions – he’ll either love you or hate you for it. Use at your own risk!