East Village community rallies around candy shop owner set to turn 90

The owner of Ray's Candy Store on Avenue A in the East Village is getting ready to turn 90, and in honor of the very special occasion, the community is raising money to make sure he can stay in business as long as he likes – because retirement is out of the question!

Ramon Alvarez, who goes by Ray, turns 90 in a few weeks. He’s still working at Ray’s Candy Store, a place he opened nearly 50 years ago in 1974. The store specializes in egg creams and deep-fried Oreos.

Ray's been through some difficult times, especially during the pandemic when the cost of running the small business doubled. "I got a bill from Con Edison, they didn’t come to read the meter for five months," he said. "The bill was $18,000."

Each time he almost closed, the community and his customers rallied around him, donating and raising money. There's now a GoFundMe for the store.  

Ray was born in Iran and became a U.S. citizen when President Ronald Reagan was in office. He last took a vacation in 1965. 

So if you find yourself in the neighborhood, listen closely -- you may hear Ray yelling how he feels about you from the window of his story.