John Jovino gun store new york
By Lamberto Zannotti, CC BY-SA 3.0,
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The John Jovino Gun Shop in New York City’s Little Italy neighborhood has been around for 109 years. But that long run has come to an end. The combination of the city’s coronavirus shutdown, high rent payments ad the city’s generally difficult business climate has forced the store to close forever.

As Untapped New York reports . . .

The shop has been owned by the Imperatio Family, who purchased it off the namesake, John Jovino, in the 1920s. Charlie Hu, aka “Gun King Charlie,” has been running the store in 1995. The store has been featured in many New York City-based films like Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets.

Mr. Hu gave an in depth interview to Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York, which claims John Jovino was the oldest gun store in the country.

“All my life,” [Hu] said, “I’ve never taken a vacation or a sick day. I never had any violations. And now this is the end of the world. My whole life went into this.”

As he put away the many awards he received over the years, tears rolled down his cheeks and into his mask. It was not his choice to close the shop. This is not how he wanted it to end.

The rent, he said, is the number one reason for closing. And then the coronavirus, shutting down business. There’s also the trouble with regulations, the slow-down in shipments of ammunition, and people buying on the Internet instead of from their local shop. Finally, Charlie said, “I’m old, I’m 74 years old, I was born in 1946, I am old.”

On Monday we wrote about the Westside Rifle and Pistol Range, the only one in borough of Manhattan. The range is fighting for its life, too, unable to generate any revenue until the city begins to reopen, but still obligated to pay rent. It may only be a matter of time before the city is scrubbed of all of its firearm-related businesses, a development that would suit city fathers just fine.


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    • I don’t know that I would really call that place a gun store. I was in there twice, never did I see a firearm or firearm accessory. They mostly just seemed to sell overpriced t-shirts to tourists who wandered in.

  1. Don’t worry. You can still get all the sex toys you want in NYC. Same for San Francisco. And you can get all the government supplied marijuana intoxication as well in SF. But not in NYC, I think.

    It’s has always been a trade off. Your guns for sex toys and pot. It seems to be working very well on the west coast. Now perhaps with the help of Libertarians Liberals and the Left. They will have legal public marijuana intoxication as well.

    But no guns for you!

    • And of course, like everywhere else, you can buy any drugs you want on any streetcorner, any time of day or night. Of course, you can also buy guns I imagine.

      • No they don’t to gun sales on streetcorners. Drug sales yes. But they do have drive thru gun sales at stores all across the country I’m told.

        The zip guns that were sold on streetcorners way back in the 1970s, were never very safe to use. Now in the 21st century they use the Internet. Guns are sold on the net all the time.

        • You can buy the guns online, but you can only pick them up at a firearms store or federal firearms license holder.

        • I’m sure you can buy sex toys as well as buy sex on any streetcorner now in 2020.

  2. Let’s be honest here, the virus didn’t force anything. The anti-constitutionalist bureaucratic machine did.

    • You beat me to it. Scrolled down to make the very same statement.

      If the issue was about not meeting the rent, I’d have gladly flipped $20 his way if a GoFundMe account had been set up for his shop.

      • I Haz a Question,

        Given that the current owner and operator is 74 years old and has never taken a vacation or sick day — meaning he has spent his entire life working long hours in that store — I seriously doubt that he even knows about crowd-sourced funding. And even if he had known about crowd-sourced funding, I doubt that he would have considered setting up an account and asking for help.

        The really sad part about all of this: if his rent is $4,000 per month, just 400 of us donating $10 would keep him going. I suspect that thousands of us could come up with a $10 donation for a couple months to keep him afloat.

        • Yep, all of this. Not the virus, the politicians. GoFundMe would probably retire this guy and pay his new manager for a while as well. I know I’d help out…

        • Sad, but he is 74, it’s time to retire anyway. Probably should move to a less expensive state, one without De Blasio.

        • Being in Little Italy, his rent was likely closer to $40,000/mo, and no I’m not kidding or being sarcastic.

    • Yup. It’s time to stop saying “the virus caused…”. There is nothing about a virus that intrinsically forces businesses to be closed. This was panic and government overreach.

  3. The dumb policies implemented nationwide to deal with the virus have now made our nation less secure. I’ve been vocal about the stupidity of forcing small businesses to close from day one. People are just now beginning to realize that we can’t afford to ever do this again. Money doesn’t grow on trees. If it did, inflation would make it meaningless. The ONLY reason the pols and journalists weren’t that concerned is because they weren’t affected by their own bad advice.

      • Where did I say we had inflation? We’re borrowing trillions, not printing it. If you thought the debt was overwhelming before, don’t look now.

        • You sure? My assumption was that we were printing it, needn’t worry about repayment. Haven’t heard the question addressed. The deflation is because no one is buying *anything*.

        • “needn’t worry about repayment”

          Yes there are all sorts of propaganda pieces out there these days so people won’t worry about it. They don’t want any sort of budget restraint because then people would have to get rich the old fashioned way, and nobody wants that. Remember: governments derive their power from their budgets. If you want to decrease their power, then you need to decrease their budgets.

          Have a gander at what they don’t want you thinking about:

        • “The deflation is because no one is buying *anything*.”

          Yes, and what does that mean? Not only is the gov spending record amounts of money, but they will simultaneously be taking in much less money. That’s what you call a recipe for disaster.

        • Dude,

          Fed Chairman Jeremy Powell recently stated very clearly that the Fed is “printing digital dollars”. The overall money supply is being increased, so inflation will result, even if deflationary pressures preceed it.

          I used to teach economics years ago. There are five types of “money” as financial instruments, from the least reliable to most:

          5) DEBT This is the promise of future payments that will be made to you. If you are selling your business, then any debts owed to you by others are considered assets to be valued. The money isn’t your yet, but debt contracts are considered as financial assets.

          4) ELECTRONIC MONEY This represents 90% of all financial transactions today. ACHs, EFTs, direct deposits of paychecks into banks, Paypal, etc. Even Bitcoin. It’s only 1s and 0s and exists only in the cyber realm, but is considered as money.

          3) FEDERAL RESERVE NOTES Also known jokingly as “FRNs” or “Frowns”, these are the paper/fiber notes we carry in our pockets and refer to as “cash”. They are not true dollars, but veritable promissory notes circulated by the Fed to the U.S. Government.

          2) U.S. COINS This is the change that rattles in your pocket and occupies space in your coin jar and couch cushions. Unlike FRNs, these are created and circulated by the Government via the U.S. Mint, and are considered actual money and not debt. Modern coins minted within the past half century consist of various combinations of cupro-nickel alloys.

          1) <U.S. GOLD & SILVER COINS The Constitution specifies that coins made of gold or silver specie may be issued. In fact, the Coinage Act of 1792 – signed by President George Washington – provided for the death penalty for counterfeiting U.S. coins. This lasted until President Roosevelt removed the gold standard from circulated coins in 1933, was furthered when President Johnson removed the silver standard in 1965, and finalized with the proverbial nail in the coffin when President Nixon removed them from interbank transactions completely. The Founders knew exactly what would happen without a gold standard – they had already experienced hyperinflation of the Continental during our struggles with Britain – but these three buffoons chose to cast aside their wisdom and unmoor us from sound money.

          Now, in 2020, we have Fed Chairman Powell and the financial Pirates of Penzance at the helm, acting in complete ineptitude and steering the U.S.S. America toward the falls…

        • The Fed is creating money to buy government bonds. To say this happens without any debt is false. Look at the surge in U.S. debt. If we could make $2 trillion appear out of thin air without negative consequence, we would be doing that every year.

        • By “not printing money”, I meant printing money without owing debt. There’s a reason we don’t do that.

        • I think it’s funny how conservatives flipped out when the Obama admin did this, but now they’re mostly silent since a republican is in office. The fiscally conservative republican is a myth.

        • Dude,

          Sorry, but I’m having a difficult time following your zig-zagging train of thought. The Fed creates digital “money” out of thin air and “loans” it to the U.S. Gov’t, which is considered debt.

          Not sure how you’ve missed all the Republicans (both inside and outside D.C.) unhappy with added debt. Pelosi’s recent $3T stimulus package passed by the House this week was declared as DOA by the Republican-led Senate.

          Most of the Republicans I know are fiscally conservative.

        • I’ll try to recap it for you in a less zig-zagging fashion that you can understand. I made a comment way, way up there that if money grew on trees, we would have inflation, so we borrow it. I was making a simple point about the government being reckless.

          That led to Templar refuting an imaginary argument where he imagined I said we had inflation,

          Which led to me saying we’re borrowing it, not printing it (without debt) which led to Larry saying he thought since we were printing it, we didn’t have to pay it back. Also, there is currently deflation because people aren’t buying,

          Which led to me saying, nope, the $2T has been added to the national debt. Also, people not buying means the gov will now have less revenue, which, combined with more debt, is a recipe for disaster,

          Which led to you arguing that actually we were printing money and giving me a lesson in economics,

          Which led to me saying our “money printing” is buying bonds. Individuals and foreign governments pick these up. We will owe them. Our national debt is skyrocketing. When I said we aren’t printing money, I meant it in the sense that we aren’t creating money that we don’t have to pay back.

          Republicans are great at talking about fiscal responsibility. When was the last time they actually performed that way on a national level? Newt Gingrich? That’s been a while. Remember the great fiscal conservative Paul Ryan? What happened under his watch? They currently control the senate and executive branch, but they’re spending like there’s no tomorrow. In addition, (in my opinion) they went too far with the tax cuts which limited our revenue. Now we’re borrowing more, with even less revenue. Maybe it’s just my perception, but I recall conservative media and pols being much more concerned about spending when Obama was in office. My opinion: If they’re so concerned now, then do something about it. We didn’t elect them to just perform for the cameras.

        • Alright, I gotcha now. I guess I skimmed thru all the preceding comments a bit too quickly (plus I was drinking my “one beer I allow myself per week”, lol).

          If you’re referring to Congressional Republicans, then I tend to lean in agreement with you. I was rather disappointed that little happened under their watch when they (we?) won control of Congress, the White House, and 38 total State Governorships in 2016. IMO, they squandered the opportunity.

          But I perceive that everyone in D.C. is increasingly understanding that the debt horse is out of the barn and cannot be corralled back inside. If someone has used the credit cards a bit too much but has the potential to rein his finances back in through austerity, he may just do that. At least, enough to ward away the debt collectors. But if his creditors keep increasing the spending limits, and he’s foolishly taken the wife on lavish vacations to keep her happy, yet his income hasn’t risen to match and the debt is out of control, he may realize that default is now mathematically inevitable. At this point, he may as well continuing on course and taking the wife to the Bahamas one or two more times before the default happens and upends their lives. Furthermore, she might already be sensing something’s amiss, but part of her is loathe to give up the vacations, so she doesn’t demand that he change.

  4. Any bets that once a significant portion of gun shops are run out of business NY’s pathetic tyrant will suddenly give the ‘all clear’?

  5. Guys, I get the sentiment, but I’ll bet the rent on a commercial property is a hell of a lot more than $4000 a month. About twelve years ago my daughter was accepted to the Joffery American Ballet for a workshop. I rented a one room apartment in Chelsea. For $3000 a month. Took a lot of off duty details to pay for that.

    • I keep hearing that rent in New York City is expensive — I did not know it is THAT expensive. Wow. Unless you are making upwards of $500k per year, why would anyone else live there?

      • Most people don’t. It’s easier to commute into Manhattan than to actually live there. I went to NYU for two semesters and never bothered actually doing anything in the city. Took the train in in the morning, jumped on the subway back to Penn Station after class and called it a day. Spent the ride there and back going over my notes.

      • NYC is the most expensive American city to live in. Rent is absolutely absurd. 12 years ago I lived in a flat in Park Slope. I had 2 roomies and each of us was paying 2k a piece in rent. Commuting is also insanely expensive. They charge you an 18 dollar toll just to go over the bridge.

        • And that’s how you get rid of the middle class. The rich get richer. The poor stay poor, and the middle class ceases to exist or goes elsewhere.

  6. Jovino’s was a great place to go if you really wanted to be treated like you didn’t matter. Unless you had a badge, Charlie Hu would first ignore you and then treat you with condescension if you didn’t take the hint.

    Service was terrible. Maybe that’s why it’s going bye-bye.

    • Thanks Ralph…whenever I see “po-leece” are special signs I get nauseated. Like the local shop with stacks of blue line glocks.

      • Join GSSF like I did and you can get the same price as LEOs do.
        ..and you can sign up for the Glock Armorer Course when a class comes to your area.
        One day taught by Glock employees. I took it and it was very good.

        • It wasn’t about price at Jovino’s. It was about status. No “civilian” had it at Jovino’s. Only the cops were treated with respect.

        • Sorry, I misunderstood. Thought you were talking about ‘Blue Label’ Glocks.

  7. That giant revolver under his sign is awesome. I’ll bet he could auction that on E-Bay for enough money to make rent the next two months!

    • The ‘Vanishing New York’ article mentions it has been sold to someone in Los Angeles…

  8. You are going to have to be welling to break the rules and go to jail to keep your civil-rights. That is what was done in the 20th century. It was really not that long ago.

    This is just like socialist Germany in the 1930s. Back then the government said you couldn’t be open for business either.

    If you want your rights in blue states your going to have to fight for them. Same for the red states in some areas.

    • The property tax does sound low. Maybe their rates don’t have to be super high there due to the income tax.

      • I looked up the house I was a young kid in, out east of NYC. The value on Zillow is over a half million and the property tax about $30,000 a year. I recall my parents sold that house for $17,000 and thought they’d made out like bandits.

        I figured a store in NYC, of any size, would have a massive property tax on it. But maybe that’s just one floor? Like it rates as one tax bill per residence or business?

        Just guessing, have not been back east in decades. Figure I never will now.

        • Property tax within the 5 boroughs is actually on the low side. It offsets the crazy property values somewhat. But Long Island, NJ forget about it.

        • Crazy appreciation. Imagine hanging on to it by renting it out, and selling when you retire. Oh well, we don’t have crystal balls.

  9. Democrats running another minority owned business out of the city.
    Same old Dems. Some things never change.

    • Jovino’s was not minority owned. It was owned by the Imperato family, who also owns Henry USA that makes those sweet lever-action rifles. You know, “made in America or not made at all.”

  10. I bought my first two pistols from Charlie@Jovino’s. He also helped me with the absurd NYC permitting. I think the Glock 19 was $700 and Beretta 92 was $900+; something like that. I figured it was overpriced at the time, but considered it as support to the only shop in the city. I’d say the dynamic at play is the licensing and no place other than West Side cuts off demand, overpriced v internet, and rent-too-damn-high. Sad to see it go.

  11. Dang. I just so happened to walk by it last time I was in NYC and stepped in for a few minutes. Shame it had to end like this.

  12. Maybe do some research before you get overwhelmed by “the feels”. This guy should have gone out of business years ago. A bunch of old junk in a run down shop. Look at the facebook pics from 2017 and back… what a terrible looking place. Like a shitty pawn shop with a bunch of junk the owner bought just to hoard. Way to go TTAG… hearts and minds? Fuck off.

  13. A facebook post says that Charlie told the FB user that the rent was 19K a month. That was 3 years ago. That sounds about right for about 1500 square in Little Italy.

  14. Not for anything , I’ve been to this place, and this guy is an asshole. Super stuck up, and if he didn’t like you everything became more expensive. Not sad to see this one go.


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