Saying goodbye to Dudley’s Paw, one dog at a time

The plan for Yvonne Fox? She’s retiring. She wasn’t ready to go. But after three decades, she’s decided she’s doesn’t feel like starting over so she’ll sell everything she can in the next three weeks and, well, close up shop for good. She’s not moving from Tribeca, where she’s lived since 1975, she said, but that’s it for what is clearly one of the neighborhood’s favorite shops. (It took two hours to have our conversation thanks to the furry shoppers pictured here, as well as some less furry customers.)

“It’s been absolutely delightful, lots of fun,” she said. “Also it’s been at times a pain in the ass. There’s always something that can frustrate the hell out of you, running a business. You’re constantly on, even sometimes when you’re home.” She pauses here.

“But I enjoyed it.”

Fox raised her two children here, and they were not long out of college when, worried she was lonely now that they had their own apartments, they surprised her with a dog on Christmas Eve, hiding him in the bathroom while she was at Midnight Mass with her son at Trinity. You know that pup’s name. Dudley. (He came from a local litter and the price for a puppy was a donation to PS 234.) That was 1990. A year later, she was laid off from her job at the city’s Health and Hospital Corporation and was taking Dudley to the groomer in the Village when the idea for the shop came to her. She dropped off the pup, ran all the way home and started making calls.

The former owner of the liquor store at 327 Greenwich tipped her off that the space was available. It all came together pretty quick, from what I can tell. And it was a simple concept.

“I bought the stuff I liked, by my taste – and it always sold,” she said.

That was 27 years ago, and she’s never considered doing anything else. It helped that she liked the customers. Dog people, she says, are good people. They’re caring for something other than a human, is her logic. She calculates that 95 percent of the ones she’s known are “a delight.”

“I’ve met hundreds and hundreds of people I would sit down and have a drink with,” she said as the owners of Maman left the store with Crumpet. “I’ll miss that, and I’ll miss the dogs.”

The rest of the story? Dudley died in 2004, and Fox says she just never took the time to get another dog, and then decided as she got older it was more than she wanted to take on. Before that was 9/11, and she had to close the shop for a couple months, finally negotiating with the secret service across the street to allow her to pick up supplies in Queens and drive them back in herself in her Jeep. She’s watched what she calls the fabric of the neighborhood change – from strictly commercial with the elevated Miller Highway at the river (“we bought our Christmas trees under there”) to “super modern giant glass buildings.” “I’ve seen it all,” she said. And now for the first time in almost three decades she’ll be able to do the stuff she likes to do – travel, go to the theater, take more than two weeks off. Still.

“I hadn’t reached the point where I was done. In my head I had at least another year,” she said. “I wasn’t ready to go, and I’ll miss it.” And then another customer came in, to say goodbye.

 
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14 Comments

  1. Yvonne Fox a true native who created “Tribeca”! we will miss your kindness Yvonne. Tribeca is not Tribeca without you!! a true Icon in our area. it was filled with working class, artist multicultural people who were driven to start Tribeca. They are gone now. Neighborhood is a big disappointment with greed and wealthy entitled.

  2. You are right that, Yvonne will be sorely missed and she and folks like her made a wonderful neighborhood. Why not stop there? Why start complaining and bashing everyone.

  3. Thank you, Yvonne, for all you’ve contributed to our neighborhood! I suspect our dogs will still be dragging us to Dudley’s Paws’ door for a long while to come. So glad to hear that you, however, are staying in the neighborhood — I look forward to continuing our shop chats on the sidewalk!

  4. I don’t even own a dog but your store and your vibe when I’ve walked friends’ dogs in your store has been a blessing! Thank you and good luck with your next chapter!

  5. I always enjoyed coming by Dudley’s Paw, almost as much as my pup Lula! Thanks for all the kindness and treats. Your store will be sorely missed, and was a wonderful part of the neighborhood.

  6. Both of our dogs have whipped us around the corner and into your store as if we were on a sleigh ride! You are a neighborhood treasure and will be sorely missed.

  7. We aren’t even dog-owners, but enjoyed this lovely story and tribute to a local shop owner and resident. Enjoy retirement!

  8. Yvonne, Rocky will never be able to walk by that corner again. Thanks for all the love.

  9. We already miss Dudley’s paw after moving to Texas in 2015. On every visit to NYC, our dog Reggie drags us over to Dudley’s Paw regardless of whether the store is open or not. This was Reggie’s favorite Tribeca store. You will be missed.

  10. Lived in Tribeca for almost 40 years – moved out in 2014. Yvonne, I saw your shop open, my kids introduced me to Dudley and forever more we were there. Thank you from the State of Virginia for loving memories of my years in Tribeca.

  11. Dudley’s Paw was one of my (and Chuy’s) favorite shops in the neighborhood. Chuy would literally drag me to there to get Yvonne’s generous offerings of liver treats. Such a loss :(

  12. It’s so sad to see this wonderful neighborhood institution go and I’m sure all of our pups will continue to drag us to Yvonne’s door! It’s Yvonne and small business operated with heart like Dudley’s Paw that made TriBeCa home.

  13. I am crying reading this article. I am going to miss Yvonne so much. So will my pup. She is a treasure trove of memories growing up in NYC and the challenges she faced. She has some wonderful stories. How many people do you know shared a table with James Baldwin at a benefit I don’t know how many years ago? Yvonne is such a pleasure and I just can’t think of another beloved business closing.

  14. The owner of the building is kicking her out to open up a restaurant. He is actually kicking out all of the stores next to her as well. She is not pleased. I told Yvonne we will leave the restaurant daily “surprises” in front of their door from my dog… Let them pee on it!

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