The beloved shop owner was an integral part of his store’s every day workings, and of the community
Upper West Side Earlier this month, Peter Koch, the owner of Town Shop, a women’s apparel and lingerie store, passed away at the age of 84. Koch had been diagnosed with lung cancer the previous year, and fell very ill about four weeks before his passing. While his doctors were never able to confirm the exact cause of his death, they believe it may have been linked to his cancer.
Koch’s father, Samuel, founded the Town Shop in 1888 when he purchased an existing business downtown on Bleecker Street for $1,000. At the time, the store sold stationary, cigars and other assorted small goods. By 1930, the store had moved uptown to 57th Street, where it sold women’s clothing. Over time, though, the store evolved from coats and frocks to lingerie and intimate apparel. In 1956, the store made its final neighborhood location change to the Upper West Side so that the store owners (Peter Koch’s parents) could be closer to their home and family. For half a decade after that, the store remained busy on the corner of 82nd and Broadway.
One could always find Koch outside the store on Broadway smoking a cigarette. In fact, it was that habit that resulted in the store’s move across the street to a more spacious location. A few years ago, Koch struck up a relationship with a group of contractors working on a massive project across the street. Koch was fascinated with how quickly the building was coming along, and would often go talk to those in charge in order to satisfy his curiosity. They soon grew close, and when Koch mentioned his vision of a larger Town Shop, the contractors insisted that they would do the job, even though it was relatively small for their company. Koch was able to see this project through, and even worked in the new store for a year before his passing.
These contractors were not the only people to take a liking to Koch. He was known to have close relationships with most of the people he employed at the Town Shop.
“The staff loved him. They called him Mr. Peter, and there were a lot of people who worked here that started each day with a hug from him.” said Danny Koch, Peter Koch’s son.
Koch was born on October 31st, 1929. He grew up in Manhattan and attended the Fieldston School in the Bronx.
When Koch wasn’t managing the Town Shop, you could usually find him engrossed in whatever sport was going on that season. The Koch family has had season tickets to the NY Giants games since 1955; it was because of these tickets that the store remained closed on Sundays. Besides the Giants, Koch was a lifelong fan of the Rangers and Yankees. And about 10 years ago, he got in to the world of thoroughbred horse racing. Danny Koch, the fourth generation of the family, now owns and manages the Town Shop. Danny had worked under his father for 26 years before he took over.
“I worked with [my father] for 26 years, and the store flourished, and its new location is wonderful.” said Danny “You know, there is not a band aid big enough to really make the pain and sorrow go away right now, and I am OK with that. It is going to take some time.”