Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"Don't Just Buy a Mercedes-Benz..."

" a *Greenwich* Mercedes!"

When I heard this ad on the radio last night I almost gagged, but it certainly reinforces the point I was making yesterday about how people come to town to buy anything with the Greenwich label on it. So now you know: if it was purchased in Greenwich, it *has* to be better. The radio says so. (And Uncle Harry, who apparently has a secret penchant for cross-dressing, was thrilled to get his teddie, BTW.)

I guess that's the reason the chain stores fall all over each other in their attempts to outbid the competition for space on Greenwich Avenue. The irony is, of course, that they will not be selling to the locals, but to the myriad out-of-towners who flock like lemmings (query: do lemmings flock?) to town so they can tell all their friends that this is where they shop. And since these particular lemmings seem to have large amounts of disposable income, the chain stores pat themselves on the back for their wise and judicious business decision to locate here.

But wait, you ask: why, then, have so many chains come and gone so quickly in recent years? Aha, dear reader, your question shows that you have grasped the nub of the problem. Lemmings migrate. They are fickle. They are by definition all but brain-dead. And they tend to do most of their shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That leaves about eleven months in the year when the hapless chain store must pay its outrageous rent, not to mention utilites and payroll costs, waiting for the lemmings to return. For the locals will certainly not be bailing them out in the interim; most of us remember the Avenue the way it used to be, replete with mom-and-pop stores. If we want to go to a mall, we'll head over to Stamford or Port Chester or White Plains - the parking is better, and often the prices are, too.

There are certain storefronts in town that I believe must be cursed. In the quarter-century that I have been observing the Avenue, no business has been able to make a long-term go of those particular locations; the average tenure is about eighteen months, give or take. Why each new tenant doesn't do a bit of market research and find out why its predecessors folded their tents so quickly is a mystery to me; perhaps they just listen to the blandishments of the real estate agents who tell them they simply can't go wrong. And then reality sets in, followed by disillusionment and bitterness. I've seen it and heard it time after time. The Chamber of Commerce buys them a one-way ticket out of town, and then looks around for the next gullible patsy.

So, dear reader, you now know the macroeconomics of Greenwich Avenue. The only stores with staying power are the ones which are still family-owned: Betteridge's, Richards, Bon Ton Fish Market, Therese Saint Clair, Black Forest, Petticoat Lane, Graham's (now the only remaining toy store downtown - the chains have all left), Beam and Barre, Hoaglands, and so forth. And that's the way it should be.

Well, it's time to head out and go - guess where? - to the Avenue to check out the latest arrivals and departures. As I have said elsewhere, you rarely walk down the same Greenwich Avenue twice; as Heraclitus noted a couple of millennia ago, change is the only constant. Even Polaris, the North Star, is shifting; Thuban and Vega have been Earth's pole stars in the past, and will be again. Wonder if Shakespeare knew that when he wrote, "But I am constant as the Northern Star..." - was there some intended irony there? Nah, probably not; 16th century astronomy was light-years behind today's. Anyhow, life is in constant flux around you, dear reader; be aware of that, and make the most of it.


Blogger saraclaradara said...

"Don't just buy a Mercedes-Benz; Buy a *Greenwich* Mercedes"

*sounds of AuthorBabe vomiting profusely*

December 31, 2006 1:05 PM  

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