Function Meets Fun at New Grove Street Gift Shop Mxyplyzyk
By Karen Keller
Owl motifs are so last year, if you ask Kevin Brynan, co-owner of the colorful new store on Grove Street with a strange name: Mxyplyzyk.
“Octopus is going to be the next big thing,” says Brynan, who opened the original Mxyplyzyk store in the West Village in 1992. The Jersey City store, which sits between A Plus deli and a RE/MAX real estate store near the Grove PATH, opened October 11 and is the third store Brynan has opened under the name. He closed a second store in the Time Warner Center earlier after a two-year lease there ended.
Despite having grown up near Poughkeepsie, Brynan recently learned that doing business here is in his blood.
The design-obsessed entrepreneur found out several months ago that his Russian immigrant grandparents had a liquor store near Journal Square in the 1940s and 1950s. Brynan’s 86-year-old mother only remembered to tell him about his grandparents’ Jersey City business recently, he says. His design aesthetics were heavily influenced by his mother, who decorated her home with modern Danish furniture.
“It’s really weird that I’ve come full circle,” he says. “I’m happy. This is my future.”
He characterized the store’s contents as “fun, functional products that are innovative and at a good price.” Items range from $3.75 for a greeting card to $250 for a modernist-looking chair. Moderately priced items include a mug emblazoned with the image of a dog wearing a Michael Jackson outfit, and a cylindrical pillow that looks like a log.
Though the brand is new in Jersey City, it’s already internationally known, Brynan says, thanks in part to the “great PR” he got in the two years he leased a 150-square-foot kiosk at the Time Warner building that lured lots of foot traffic.
With the economy in a shambles, Brynan says business now is as bad as he has ever seen in his lifetime. But his monthly rent at the Grove Street location is so low that he doesn’t need to sell many items every day to break even, he says.
Business is cheaper here for other reasons too.
“Here the (parking) tickets are only $29! In Manhattan, it’s like $60!” he says.
Brynan is currently working on expanding a discounts program for local residential buildings. People living in the Grove Pointe condominiums at the PATH already get 10 percent off, he said.
“I always thought that the 20-percent-off Bed, Bath & Beyond [coupon sent in the mail] was really good,” he explains.
The 730-square-foot space on Grove Street was vacant for two years because the owner “wanted a chain,” Brynan says. It used to be an electronics store. He and Cleary first looked at a space across the street from the Pavonia-Newport PATH station, but that space would have required an expensive renovation, he says.
The Grove Street space, by contrast, was “a perfect square” and already had air-conditioning. It didn’t need any structural changes. Brynan and Cleary hope to open a third store in Westfield, NJ next, a town with “good stores,” says Brynan, “like Trader Joe’s and Williams-Sonoma.”Read the full article.