Only In NY: ‘World’s Smallest Store’ On Christopher Street Is Big On Character

By Billie Rama

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Blink and you might miss it.

Located a few doors down from the Christopher Street PATH Station in the West Village is the “World’s Smallest Store.”

The interior of the 50-square-foot store looks like a long, narrow closet filled with clothing and other wares extending to a table on the sidewalk. If it weren’t for the sign, and if this wasn’t New York City, you’d likely mistake it for a yard sale.

More interesting than the store’s size, or lack thereof, is one of the store’s professed owners, Parksarezoosfortrees, yes that is what he said his name is — Parks Are Zoos for Trees.

When asked about the name, “Parks” said he’d rather be remembered by a sentence as opposed to a name. He also said, when asked, that his last name “is unpronounceable in your language.”

This may be perhaps because, according to his Facebook page, he was raised by birds.

ivan youngblood1 Only In NY: Worlds Smallest Store On Christopher Street Is Big On Character

'Parks' a.k.a. Ivan (Credit: Billie Rama/CBSNewYork)

A bit of research found that P-A-Z-F-T is long for Ivan Youngblood, a dog educator, stand-up comic, and self-proclaimed hippie.

Everything in the store is hand-made. Parks said if he didn’t make it, he knows who did, adding “everything is made by hipsters.”

My guess is some of the same hipsters behind his other venture,

Business is pretty good, according to Parks but not exactly where it should be. “I haven’t reached my full expression as a place. There is still a lot that I want to do. I will be hanging naturally shed deer antlers all over the place because hangers are boring. Regular slat walls are boring,” according to Parks.

Here’s some of what you’ll find at the World’s Smallest Store:

  • Original designs
  • Funny and thought-provoking shirts
  • Clever undies
  • Custom work and hand-made jewelry.

Since he’s a one-man organization, the store doesn’t keep traditional hours. However, that doesn’t stop him from making a sale.

“If someone wants something and calls me at 3 a.m., I’ll come back for a sale. I’m more like a facilitator between truly homemade art from some people I know in Bushwick, to right here where maybe they might see something like that. I’m really putting the best of the best here. Everything pops – I don’t carry anything boring.”

He added that he loves art, and said whether the store is a success or failure, it has been an amazing learning experience, and a lot of fun.

If you want to feel good about doling out some green, Parks said he donates proceeds to an organization called Trees for the Future, and that, “technically a tree is planted with every purchase.”

Although admirable, especially in these tough economic times, Parks isn’t patting himself on the back.

“I still don’t feel like I’m doing enough, but at the same time a lot of people say ‘Oh that’s so good of you. But really, [like] everybody should be doing something or it’s like ‘OK, do I make that guy rich? Do I make that guy rich?’ It would be cooler if we could say that guy does something for walruses.”

He doesn’t yet have a Web site for the World’s Smallest Store, but says one is coming soon.

And if you’re wondering what the rent is on such a tiny space, Parks says he got a “good deal” at less than $4,000 per month.

A good deal? That’s debatable.

What isn’t up for debate is the fact that you’ll find some pretty unique stuff and a very colorful New Yorker at 131 Christopher Street.

Do you have ideas for future Only In New York stories? Let us know. And share your comments below.

  • April

    I pass by this little store on my way home from work every day, it’s just what this neighborhood needs!

  • Ian

    I liked the article and stopped by the store. They have some really unique handmade things from local artisans, and the owner Mr. Parks for Zoos was a very interesting guy. Its at least worth going there just to meet Parks for Zoos.

  • Alicia

    I think people are missing the point with this article…the guy is a character and I love the local flavor of this article…if you want to sell stuff out of your hallway, go ahead, no one is stopping you.

    • Parks Are Zoos For Trees

      Thanks……….stop by sometime. I never pressure anyone to buy. Come and check it out! ……………..

  • John S

    I love this place! With everything going on with OWS I love that this guy has his own store that is TINY. Makign the most out of the space you’re given…that’s fantastic! And I love that he’s selling handmade stuff from locals. He’s great!

  • Jimmy

    There are so many smaller stores in the world. Please.

  • Marina Ios

    i dont see any thing interesting in this article, and why do you call it “store”?
    if i start selling t-shirts from inside my hallway closet i will get ranked #1
    really annoying way to try to advertise on internet.

  • pete

    The smallest store is located in Bratislava, Slovakia. It is a “Hole in the Wall” of the former fortifications of the town. It is a real store, well kept, and sells souvenirs, not the dump you describe in New York. Why bringing up something like this, it is not worth printing!!

  • Jen

    “Three little birds…outside my doorstep”.

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