The World’s Only Curious George Store isn't giving up on staying in Harvard Square.
After news broke that the beloved Cambridge store was set to close due to development plans, the community has rallied to support the local business.
Store owner Adam Hirsch, along with his whole Curious George team, have launched a Change.org petition that by Monday afternoon had already garnered more than 3,000 signatures in a few days.
“Our goal is to surpass 5,000 signatures. That’s not a magic number but it feels like a large enough amount to show a critical mass of interest,” Hirsch said. “We love being where we are, we love being in Harvard Square and we would love to remain as an ongoing viable children’s retail entity somewhere in [the area].”
Hirsch as well as his team have already witnessed that interest. People have been flocking to the comments section of the Change.org petition as well, and those words mirror precisely what they’ve been hearing in the store, Hirsch said.
“I believe in the unique shops that aid wonder to life and bring joy to children of all ages,” one comment read. “What a shame it would be to lose the magic this store has to offer.”
“As a former Boston resident and a former employee of the store I can attest to what a tremendous place this is for the surrounding community,” said another. “I will always fight to protect bookstores, because they are my happy place, but this store in particular provides a haven for kids in the area and a place that celebrates reading learning and fun.”
The Curious George Store became threatened after real estate developer Equity One announced plans to build a three-story mall in the space and replace the store with a stairwell and elevator.
The store isn’t in immediate danger of closing, Hirsch noted — it will remain at its location at least through the summer of 2017 and mostly likely to the end of that year, he said — “but in retail terms that isn’t a long time so we need to be planning.”
Hirsch said that the goal of the petition isn’t to “demand” that the store stays exactly where it is but that they show how important the retailer is to the Harvard Square area.
“If I could say we got over 5,000 signatures in less than two weeks, I think that’s a powerful message to the city of Cambridge, Harvard University and other influencers of the square,” he said.
The Cambridge Historical Commission previously voted to delay debate on the Equity One proposed remodel, but following the hearing, Equity One was allowed to begin the process to petition the City Planning Board, the Harvard Crimson reported. If approved, construction is slated to begin in 2018. The next Historical Commission meeting will be on Oct. 6.
Hirsch said that to say he’s been experiencing a roller coaster of emotions would be “an understatement.” The store celebrated its 75th birthday on Saturday and Hirsch said that more than 1,000 people showed up to enjoy birthday cake, Chunky Monkey ice cream courtesy of Ben & Jerry's and to see Curious George himself.
"We are thankful for any and all support we can get from those who love Curious George, who love us and who love Harvard Square,” Hirsch said. “That [petition] is what it will take for us to find a new home.”