Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Untitled Store

The piles of boxes, metal shelving units, the beat-up floors and every possible piece of merchandise made out of cloth packing every square inch - these were the stores we knew just like we knew Macy's or Kleins or Gimbels or, if you needed something really nice, B. Altman's.

This one is one of the very few left on Orchard Street. Surrounded by art galleries with incomprehsible crap in their windows and boutiques selling clothes that looked like what my grandparents wore, only a billion times more expensive.

This store has sheets.  Cotton sheets.  Last year, another walk down the stairs to the florescent-lit cavern, the sad-looking lady, old-time orthodox, younger than me, but looking like my Bubbie, sold me a great fitted one for just $10.

"You look like a nice couple, you need shirts? I got very good quality dress shirts?"

The Mariner got a great shirt for $25.  He couldn't say no to that lethal combination of sad-complimenting-Bubbie-looking lady.

A year later, I needed sheets. Cotten sheets.  I had splurged on a set at Marshalls during another Dad visit in my defensive-stress-busting-shopping activities.  The sheets sucked.  Clearly, if I wanted good ones I was going to have to go back to the old neighborhood to get them.

She hadn't changed a bit.  Younger than me, still looked like my Bubbie.   Pulling out piles of plastic bricks filled with matching sheets and pillow cases.  "This is a nice one, Bloomingdales."

"It's ugly."

"You like this one?"

"Sateen, don't want sateen."

"Sateen?  No.  Cotten.  What about these?  Wash beautiful, people tell me."

"They're ugly too.  I like this one."

"OK.  $30."

With the extra pillow cases, $40 and she wouldn't bargain.

Then, with a look at the Mariner, she said, "You look like a nice couple, you need shirts? I got very good quality..."


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