One of the East Village’s oldest businesses and one of the last holdovers of the area known as Little Ukraine has shuttered after nearly a century. Surma the Ukrainian Store closed its doors Sunday, and photographer Nick McManus was there Saturday to take a couple of Parting Shots of owner Markian Surmach and his colleagues and customers.
Rumors of the East 7th Street shop’s closing were first floated by Jeremiah’s Vanishing NY and confirmed by DNAinfo.
According to a history published last year by The Ukrainian Weekly, the store got its start in 1918 when Myron Surmach, a Galician immigrant, began selling books and clothing to a local Ukrainian gymnastics group. Originally concentrating on Ukrainian instruments and records, the shop moved around and evolved– following a wave of Eastern European immigration in the ’50s– to offer imported handicrafts and the type of Ukrainian Easter eggs that are often on display at the Ukrainian Museum, nearby on East 6th. When Myron retired and passed the store on to his son, he continued stocking the store with honey made at his New Jersey apiary. In the ’60s, Surma became a destination for the hippies who flocked to St. Marks Place and the Fillmore East. Joan Baez and Janis Joplin shopped there.
After the death of Myron Jr. in 2003, the business was taken over by its founder’s grandson. The charming, eclectic shop had come to seem like a relic– just as frozen in time as its neighbor McSorley’s, but not nearly as celebrated by selfie snappers.