Why did the Town Shop cross the road?
To get to the other size.
Especially since the other size is three times the previous size.
Town Shop is the store where women undress you with their eyes — at least if you’re also a woman, and in search of the right brassiere. It’s the bra-fitting capital of New York, and it has just moved across the street to a shop that can provide more women than ever with its formidable support.
This is fitting, since Town Shop has always been preoccupied with size. It advances the theory that 80 percent of women are afflicted with ill-fitting bras. When a member of that 80 percent walks in, a fitter quickly looks her over and then announces her proper number and letter. There’s not a tape measure in the house.
But the once-over measure must work, since the store is around a century old, with roots in a Bleecker Street notions shop of 1888. It has had several branches around the city, but this is the one that endured. It’s been a fixture on the Upper West Side since 1936.
For most of its life it was run by Selma Koch, the founder’s daughter-in-law, who arguably became even more famous than her bras. Her crusty devotion made her a media darling. She ruled the store for 75 years. She was undoubtedly as famous as you could get and still be a bra-store owner.
Selma died 10 years ago, and the store has since been run by her son and grandson, Peter Koch and Danny Koch. Schooled as they are in spatial relationships, they were primed to increase their square footage. When a chance appeared across the street, they packed up their underthings.
The bright new space, Danny says, is a jolt to some longtime patrons: “They say, ‘Oh, we loved that old store’ or ‘We miss the intimate feel.’” But others are jolted with joy. “They can’t believe this is us,” Danny says. “They’re not accustomed to shopping in one of our stores where you can actually see the merchandise.”
Along with the Spanx compressors, the room displays underwear and pajamas with fancy-pants brand names like Calida and Derek Rose. As Danny points out, women buy most men’s underwear, but just in case, the man’s room has a TV set that always shows the game.
Danny loves his new place — but he made sure to give it some old spirit. You can see it in things like the dressing-room curtains and the Town Shop memorabilia. The store is shiny, but it’s still a long way from Bloomingdale’s. Or in Danny’s words: “It’s somewhere between what we had and the Apple Store.”
Cross over to Town Shop, now at 2270 Broadway, between 81st and 82nd streets, in New York City.