After the 89-year-old owner of a New York City candy store fell behind on his bills throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, his customers gifted him nearly $50,000 in donations to keep his business afloat.
Ramon Alvarez has sold deep-friend Oreos, powdered beignets, and egg creams, among other sweets, at his East Village candy store for almost 50 years, NY1 reported. Alvarez even kept his store open during the Tompkins Square Park Riots and called the “combatants” his customers, according to the New York Post. Due to the pandemic and inflation, his bills skyrocketed.
“All my costs doubled, from cooking oil and potatoes to electricity,” Alvarez told the New York Post. “Rent is a killer. When I started in 1974, I paid $125 and now I am paying $6,185 a month. After I paid my rent and the electricity, I didn’t have any money for my health,” he added.
Ray Alvarez, who celebrates his 90th birthday in January, was worried his iconic candy store would not survive the pandemic and rising cost of supplies – but the community is coming together to make sure his business continues to thrive. https://t.co/5446nrAoYH
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) November 21, 2022
Alvarez borrowed $10,000 from two sisters who work for him, according to the NY Post. Then he borrowed $1,000 from his friend. He asked another friend for money, but the friend could not lend any, so he set up a GoFundMe page instead. In one week, Alvarez raised $48,986.
His customers range from celebrities like Bruce Willis, Madonna and Kim Kardashian to local teenagers, cops and firefighters, the New York Post reported.
“It’s such an iconic spot — everyone loves him,” a customer, Nicolas Heller, told NY1.