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March 30, 2003
a little better...

So I am doing a little better after all. After a weekend of barely any food and just random moments of sleep and awakening, which did not mix well with watching Waking Life, which I got at the Wiz on 97th, as it is going out of business. Many stores around here are closing shop actually. There is a bit of a transformation going on. The Wiz just went bust, the store seemed always empty, there are other ways to get all these things easier, I guess it makes sense. "Today you can beat the Wiz, 20-40% off." The store manager now puts a "Final Sale" stamp on all receipts. A sony clié had a broken security device and was just there on the floor. A stampede of customers was out to clean out the last merchandise. (Oh, they also had a PowerBook at 15% off, but I somehow feel okay with what I have right here on my lap.) The Wiz is going away. The gap had closed their shop a few months ago. This was when the latin dance-club (Latin Quarter) was converted into a Chase Manhattan Bank. The sign of "Gothic Cabinet Craft" across Broadway came down yesterday, just to reveal an old sign for "East River Savings Bank." The most quirky downsize here might have been a shop called Fowad. The owners are somewhere from the middle east and real pros. They used to buy clothes by the truckload and then resell them for what seemed like a real deal. (Real 80's fashion accidents anyone?, just $5.99) Fowad had these huge racks all around the south east corner of 96th and Broadway, filled wish Shmates and marked with these huge hand made $9.99 signs. There would be at any time during the day several men with signs or not, guarding their bazaar, discussing some stuff in Arabic. Then, by the end of last year, the grand announcement began. Fowad was going out of business. Their lease had not been extended. The signs were replaced with even bigger ones, counting the days. "10 days left, we are going out of business", "only 9 days left", "final week, everything must go!", "three days left!" and then finally: "last day, we are closing shop!" About a week or so later the place really closed down. (Did I mention that they are professionals?)
Oddly enough, all clothes that were in the store and could not be sold, just stayed there. A real proof of the "high value" of the items.
One could maybe think that this is where the story ends. This is not quite the case. About a month or so ago, new activity began at the old Fowad location. The store was gutted, (the clothes were first removed), and then a wall was put in dividing the old space into a large empty area and a little store, not on the corner, but still right here on Broadway. About a week after this activity, the door opened to a new "clothing store" callen Allana's? (will need to check.) The cute detail is that these are exactly the same people, with the same stuff, the same prices, the same sense of business. Oh, and because the larger space is empty now, they spread their racks around the same corner in the same way, with the same guys guarding them. Pretty smart. They are obviously paying a much lower rent now, they were obviously able to convince the landlord that their small presence is still better than no tenant at all. Wicked.
So does all this (the closing of all these shops here) point to some decline of my neighborhood? Will I soon need to just order in at night and regularly carry a big stick? I hope not. There are some new restaurants here right around the corner on Amsterdam, there is more activity here despite the fact that the nation is at war.
I have the feeling that what is happening is just an increase in rents in the area. The shops that are closing seem to be of the kind that prepare an area for the onslaught of other chains.
I already have a view of a Starbucks, a Dunkin Donuts, a Rite Aid, a Chase Bank. I can not imagine how much more generic the makeup of the blocks here could still get? Hmm...
Aaargh, feeling strange again. Will need to get some sleep a little sooner today. Tomorrow will certainly be an exciting day.


Don't forget about the six Duane Reades within a ten-minute walk.

Posted by: Grant Barrett on March 31, 2003 07:47 PM
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