This week, vegan shoe store MooShoes permanently closed its Los Angeles location. In 2001, vegan sisters Erica and Sara Kubersky founded MooShoes as a first-of-its-kind boutique in New York City and opened the first iteration of the store in a defunct butcher shop before moving it to its well-known Lower East side location in Manhattan. In 2014, the sisters expanded the operation to a second location in Los Angeles.
The challenges facing small retail business during the shelter-in-place orders across California due to the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for the shop—which often held in-store events and partnered with food vendors and activist groups—to continue to operate despite its pre-pandemic popularity. “Unfortunately, with the pandemic, paying multiple rents (LA and NYC) without any in-store sales (especially without knowing how long this might last) just wasn’t feasible for our small business any longer, so we had to make the difficult decision to close our second location,” Erica Kubersky told VegNews.
Creative directors Troy Farmer and Katie Fritchel operated the LA store and shared with VegNews some of their most cherished memories at the shop. “It was really beautiful and so wonderful how the LA vegan and activist communities welcomed us—we were honored to be able to serve as a hub for everything from animal-welfare agency fundraisers to vegan cookbook releases to community meetings to film screenings to film shootings to rat-appreciation parties (no really) over the years,” the duo said in a joint statement. “And while the long-term relationships we fostered with a lot of the small businesses that popped up at the store were lovely, the friendships we developed with the people behind those businesses are even more rewarding.”
MooShoes LA had close relationships with surrounding vegan businesses, including 100 Tacos, The Frankenstand, Krimsey’s, Word of Mouth Food Truck, Cup My Cakez, Clean South, Eat Love, Clara Cakes, and Sustain LA. “We are so thankful this experience brought them into our lives,” Farmer and Feitchel said. “We love the LA vegan community.”
While the LA store is closed, the company will continue to operate its online shop and the sisters hope to soon reopen the doors at their flagship location. “We will be reopening our NYC store as soon as we safely can and, in time, we hope to again have in-store events because, more than anything, we miss the community aspect of our business,” Erica Kubersky said.
In addition to MooShoes, in 2017, the sisters also opened vegan deli and grocery store Orchard Grocer adjacent to their NYC boutique and it continues to operate as an essential business, open for takeout and delivery, during the COVID-19 pandemic.