An iconic New York City candy store and its former owner are receiving love from the community it has served for decades.
Ray’s Candy Store, located at 113 Avenue A in Manhattan’s East Village, has been a New York City staple serving candy, egg custards, donuts and more since Ray Alvarez opened the store in 1974.
Born Asghar Ghahraman, Ray immigrated to the United States from Iran, according to The New York Times. After earning enough money as a waiter, he bought the store for $30,000, according to documentary filmmaker and downtown influencer New York Nico. Since then, Ray has been in charge of his store, even sleeping in the back at times, for almost 50 years.
Ray and his “Everything Made With Love” sign has been the subject of various reports, from Humans of New York to conversations with Anthony Bourdain. Now, his community wants to give back to the hard-working business owner.
As his 90th birthday approaches on January 1, a GoFundMe was set up to host a birthday party for Ray and honor him with a “kind of Lifetime Achievement Award for Doing Good™ and his contributions to our collective happiness,” reads fundraising.
Additionally, any additional funding will go to the business, which has been struggling with food and electricity costs amid the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. While many stores have been forced to raise prices or close, Ray has refused to do that with his loyal customers.
“We want to help Ray stay in business as long as he wants until he decides to hang up his apron on his terms,” the fundraiser read.
“Many businesses failed to survive. We refuse to let that happen to Ray’s! Ray’s Candy Store is the heart of the East Village. If Ray leaves, a part of the neighborhood and a part of New York City will go with him.” ,” the fundraiser continued. “Together, with your help, we can make sure Ray’s awning stays lit, the ice cream machines keep humming, and the fried Oreos keep coming (and of course, they can count on Ray yelling I LOVE YOU! ! from your window as you pass by!)”
In just three days, GoFundMe has raised $32,772 with 1,300 donations (at the time of publication) and has already surpassed its original goal of $19,740, which represents the year Ray opened the store in 1974.