Refurbished typewriters line the shelves of Gramercy Typewriter Company.

 

It might seem counterintuitive, but in this digital era, the owner of a nearly 100-year-old Manhattan typewriter store says his shop is “busier than ever.”

Jay Schweitzer says that he and his team at The Gramercy Typewriter Company, founded in 1932, work seven days a week at their new West 17th Street location to meet the demand from millennials and teenagers clamoring for an old-fashioned writing machine.

“They’re so distracted when they sit in front of a computer that they get no work done,” says Schweitzer. His customers, he believes, are looking for something that will help them avoid digital interruptions.

Schweitzer also says that typewriters are increasingly purchased by parents as “learning tools” for their children to teach keyboard and spelling skills, since they aren’t equipped with the autocorrection found on a computer or smartphone.

The store stocks machines from different eras, ranging from a 1930s Underwood to a 1980s IBM, to suit individual preferences. Customers who come in for repair get to see “hands-on” what’s wrong so they can learn for themselves. Maintaining its traditional approach to business, the store does not allow for online ordering or shipping.

And according to Schweitzer, whose family has maintained the shop for three generations, people come from all over the country to visit. His grandfather started the business in a small Gramercy office, before transitioning to a location near the Flatiron Building, where it stayed for 48 years. Schweitzer stated that the store’s new location gives it better visibility to passersby.

“We’re not doing this to get rich, we’re doing this because we like it,” added Schweitzer.