Greenwich Gossip

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Oops! There Goes Another Greenwich Ave Store

No one is singing "High Hopes" on Greenwich Avenue these days. Just the opposite, in fact. The general mood ranges from lowered expectations to downright despair. Frequently, the thumb-twiddling staff persons outnumber the ever-sparser customers. Not a way for a business to make money, one would think.

Today's Oops! is Petit Patapon, a quondam purveyor of overpriced baby clothes with a European accent, which has suddenly papered over its windows and left Town in the dead of night. Your scribe went up to see if there was a Court Order taped to the door, like that of PP's quondam quondam rival a few storefronts south, Best & Co.; but no, dear reader, this one seems to be a voluntary closing. Well, as "voluntary" as shutting down a losing operation ever is.

Greenwich Avenue is looking more and more like an aging prizefighter, with ever-increasing gaps between the teeth. The local population stopped shopping there years ago, concomitant with the "mallification" of the Avenue, and the parvenues from out of state or up the line seem to be pulling in their horns these days. Huge swaths of empty parking places festoon the street on this Saturday morning, usually one of the busiest shopping times of the week. You could put a fleet of stretch limos from end to end along whole blocks today. That is, if you can find anyone who still has a fleet of stretch limos willing to lend them for the purpose.

If this epidemic of store closings continues, it won't be long until the number of empty storefronts on Greenwich Avenue surpasses those of the still ostensibly operating ones. And if you were somehow able to sneak a peek at the ledgers and separate the stores making money from the ones hemorrhaging it on a daily basis, the picture would be bleak indeed. No wonder the Chamber of Commerce plans to put on a comedy/variety show as a fundraiser this fall. It reminds your scribe of Nero's rumored fiddling while Rome burned. Well, the local C of C has always been good for a laugh or two, and one supposes that they are merely trying to trade on their steadily-diminishing assets as their membership continues to decline precipitously. They've already laid off most of their staff, but somehow the ineffable Mary Ann Morrison continues to wander around Town, busily trying to look busy while doing absolutely nothing of consequence visible to the naked eye.

Eventually, things will turn around. They always do. But for the moment, the momentum is downward, and shows no signs of easing. Stay tuned for news of the next casualty!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Greenwich Post's Novel Idea to Deal with Lack of Advertisers

Yes, dear reader, that perennial laughingstock of Greenwich journalism, the Greenwich (dumb as a) Post, has come up with a great idea to cover up its shrinking advertising base: simply print the same page twice. In today's (August 20) edition, you will find page 13A is duplicated on facing pages, creating an interesting sense of deja-vu. Your scribe even read the column of the Market Witch twice, only to discover that the inane twaddle of Ms. Clark (no relation, thank Heaven) did not improve upon further acquaintance. Herewith a typical Orwellian fantasy from her pen:

"In order for real estate markets to continue to stabilize and improve...." Huh? The real estate market has stabilized? And is improving? What do you suppose they put in their tea over at the Greenwich (dumb as a) Post? Everything your scribe has read recently suggests that the diametrical opposite is true. But of course there's never a competent real estate blogger around when you need one: Chris Fountain has "gone fishing" and closed down his blog for the nonce. Still, you may want to see what he has to say about the matter when he deigns to return and take up his pen again. You can follow him at:

In the meantime, your scribe is kicking himself for having missed the dramatic turn-around in the real estate market, not to mention the fact that he cannot find a pair of 3-D glasses to see if there's a hidden message in the doubly-printed page. Without them, he's getting double vision, not to mention a headache from all the non-sequiturs in the Market Watch column. The headache only gets worse when he starts to wonder which market, in fact, is being watched: the actual one, or a fantasy creation of the Greenwich (dumb as a) Post?

And then, of course, the answer comes: your scribe now recalls that this is the not-so-brilliant paper that actually fired Chris Fountain for daring to write the truth about the coming real estate debacle which continues to threaten to bankrupt the country. Of COURSE they're going to find someone to say the opposite of what Chris said - after all, their advertisers demanded it. The advertisers, that is, who apparently no longer advertise, and thus have forced the paper to print the same page twice rather than simply leave it blank. What was it Hamlet said about the ungodly being hoist by their own petard? Or in this case, perhaps, hoist by their own canards.

Hurry back, Chris! Greenwith hath need of thee.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The New Cop Shop

Today your scribe toured the new Public Safety Complex, better-known locally as the "Police Palace". It comprises some 50,000 square feet +/-, he was told. Included are two bunk bedrooms (one for the lady officers, one for the gentlemen), a handful of bathrooms, a couple of showers, and, of course, the jaccuzzi in the chief's office.

Oh, yes, and a number of cells, each with its own stainless steel toilet. So actually we could be talking a couple of dozen "bedrooms" and "bathrooms" here, if your definition thereof isn't too high-falutin'.

The health club and locker rooms are patterned after those of some of the local country clubs, if with perhaps a few fewer amenities. The rooftop swimming pool has not yet been installed, having apparently fallen victim to various budgetary cuts along the way. But the view from the roof is quite extensive, ranging all over downtown Greenwich and across to Long Island. The chief's penthouse, also incomplete as of this writing, will have a panoramic 360-degree view, the better to keep an eye on the comings and goings of the citizenry of Greenwich.

Your scribe's question about the architectural style went unanswered. There's a certain classical Roman feel ab0ut the building, noticeable in the windows and the two-story atrium, as well as in the feeling of raw power exuding from the stonework. Albert Speer would probably not have felt out of place here. The "fortress Greenwich" feeling is reinforced by a plethora of bullet-resistant glass and a "sally port" which is somewhat like a medieval portcullis, operating sideways instead of vertically. Overlooking the walled courtyard thus created are the windows of the law offices of Ivey, Barnum and O'Mara, where no doubt the lucky attorneys will be able to have first pick of the potential clients brought in through the sally port.

This is not your parents' cop shop. It is massive, high-tech, and built to withstand power failures, hurricanes, telephone outages, and the onslaughts of angry mobs. If Louis XVI had had this building instead of the Bastille, he would never have lost his head.

At the moment, the sheer institutionalism of the structure leaves your scribe somewhat cold. But maybe that's because it's still largely empty and uninhabited. There will be a public ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 24th at ten a.m. If you are in the area, dear reader, you may want to attend and form your own opinions. It is, of course, the product of your taxpayer dollars at work.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another Vacant Storefront on Greenwich Avenue...

Here yesterday, gone today - such is the saga of 16 Greenwich Avenue, which suddenly has "For Rent" signs plastered in its windows. Your scribe couldn't even remember what product had been sold there the day before, and had to ask a neighbor for information. Women's bathing suits, as it turns out - well, no wonder your scribe was not a regular customer.

This particular storefront has had perhaps the highest turnover rate of any on Greenwich Avenue. No one seems to last there for more than just a handful of years. Is it jinxed? One begins to wonder.

Let's see: there used to be a travel agent there for a while. And a sweater shop. And a chocolate shop. Perhaps the most interesting tenant was the Meserve-Coale gallery, which used to offer genuine Renoirs and Utrillos for sale. How often do you get a chance to see real works of art up close, dear reader? Your scribe was sad to see the gallery go....

And what will be next? Will the massage parlor upstairs in the building next door take advantage of the vacancy, and move in? Will some new chain store try to make a go of life on Greenwich Avenue, when so many others are turning tail and leaving? Or will, perhaps, the landlord look for a local tenant, a family-owned business that is here for the long haul, a purveyor of goods or services who believes in the personal touch and will help to start the renaissance of the Avenue?

Let's hope for the best, dear reader. If there is a silver lining to the current economic recession, it is that we have a chance, at last, to reclaim the Avenue for the citizens and merchants of the Town. The outsiders have been and gone, or are going soon; let's put the "Greenwich" back in Greenwich Avenue.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dog Days on the Avenue

Today is the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures up in the 90s. If you were driving an 18-wheeler down Greenwich Avenue and wanted to park, you could pull right up next to the curb in more than a dozen locations. Half the Town is away in Nantucket or Maine, and the other half are sitting by the pools at their clubs or riding the Island Beach ferry. No one is shopping.

And particularly not at Georg Jensen, which closed its doors for good on Saturday. Today all the remaining merchandise is being boxed up for return to New York. Good riddance, says your scribe.

Is the era of the chain stores on Greenwich Avenue finally coming to an end? The signs are hopeful. Quite a few have already gone, and the ones that remain can hardly be turning a profit, given their high overhead and low foot traffic. Indeed, it is a wonder that there are not more empty storefronts than the record number we already have. If one could look at the balance sheets behind the storefronts, it might quickly become evident that many of them are hemorrhaging some serious money on a daily basis.

It will be interesting to see what Greenwich Avenue looks like in another three to six months. Will things start to improve, or will they continue to deteriorate? At the moment, the trend is continuing downward. Even the pretty neon lights that used to beautify the Avenue's massage parlor are gone, no doubt as a cost-cutting measure. Times are tough all over.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


So read the handwritten sign in the doorway at Vineyard Vines on Greenwich Avenue this afternoon. Not long after, however, it was replaced by a pair of dark red legal notices proclaiming the premises to be dangerous and unsafe. No whale hats for Whaleheads today.

As the staff milled around outside the store while the fire department investigated the cause of the leak that had dirty brown water dripping from overhead both inside and outside the store, your scribe heard one of them ask another, "Do you think we should call Shep and Ian?" Gee...ya think?

And in fact, Shep did show up later in the proceedings. Reportedly, the quick-acting staff had managed to move most of the merchandise out of harm's way, so your scribe's hopes of buying a slightly waterlogged bathing suit at a deep discount were rudely dashed.

Tom Torelli, who manages the rental properties in the building, was also milling about, perhaps wondering how this might affect relations with the tenants. Probably put something of a damper on them, your scribe suspects.

Eventually, the fire trucks went away, and things quieted down. But for the moment, at least, we have yet another closed storefront on Greenwich Avenue.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"Is My Daughter-in-Law Going to Jail?" Part IV

Your scribe has already posted thrice on this topic, and you may find these earlier posts at:

Now comes the news that Jen is newly-engaged to be married. Well, why not? The official mourning period of a year is long since past, and to judge by the reports of their last few minutes together, the couple's marriage would have ended in divorce very soon after their return from their not-so-blissful honeymoon cruise. The only wonder, from your scribe's standpoint, is that she has waited so long before trying again.

So no, George, the answer to your question is that Jen is not going to jail; she's going down the aisle again instead. One hopes she has better luck this time.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Lights Are Going Off On Greenwich Avenue...

Well, perhaps not all of them, but those pretty neon lights at the massage parlor above Greenwich Avenue are now history. Yes, dear reader, the Avenue today is a drearier place than it was only last week.

How can this have happened? Is it possible that someone at Town Hall read your scribe's posts and sent out the Tackiness Troopers to pull the plug? Well, it is a matter of verifiable fact that your scribe's first post on the matter broke all previous records for "hits" on Greenwich Gossip - even the "Randy Reverend", Tom Tewell, ran a poor second to the massage parlor's neon lights.

Your scribe was chatting with a friend on the Avenue a few minutes ago; we were bemoaning the current state of Greenwich Avenue. "My son grew up here," she said, "and when he came back recently he said it looked like Dresden after the war." We both agreed that the Avenue has never looked so down-at-heel since time immemorial, since when the memory of man runneth not to the contrary.

And now the one splash of color in our Town's increasingly drab and dreary main thoroughfare is gone. Your scribe blames only himself for the loss. He foolishly forgot the power of the blogosphere, and that there are people out there who actually read his deathless prose and take it to heart. Who'd'a thunk it?