A store that Ruehls.

It was a brisk, Wintery day. I awoke with a horrible sore throat, chills, and achy bones, and didn't look forward to heading out into the cold feeling under the weather. My gas gauge was nearly empty, so I had to stand outside for ten minutes refueling as well. I told myself it wasn't as cold as it had been, but then I drove along the shore and saw that the Long Island Sound had frozen into an icy tundra, not unlike this video Otis found.

My office wasn't much better, and I started to wonder if I might be seriously ill. After comparing notes with some coworkers though, I confirmed that it was freezing in our building. It was a good day for some hot food at lunch in the food court of a nearby mall, which I chased with a blended strawberry banana concoction made with real fruit, guaranteed to zap whatever was brewing in my system. It was a cold, cold day, which is why I was surprised to see a girl walk by in a short sleeve white top, and ridiculously short white shorts.

Could I have been hallucinating? Two or three people at our table probably wouldn't have noticed, but B13 always has a keen eye for such things, so it was he I pointed out the potential mirage to first. At first he didn't see her, and just as I grew certain I didn't see what I thought I did, he finally corroborated my vision.

There was still some time to kill once everyone finished eating, and since no one was in a hurry to head back to the office on a Friday, we meandered past some stores. And, once again, I had to question my senses when on the second level of storefronts, I saw a brick building with windows, metal railings, a stoop and a sidewalk. The other guys saw it too though, along with the Ruehl No. 925 address.

We cautiously entered the displaced brownstone, which retained the residential look in its interior. The attendants manning the front rooms, dudes who looked like teen drama rejects, were among the few reminders that it was a retail location. To one side, a fireplace blazed. To another, rows of old books sat on shelves, just above rows of clothing, while hanging lamps maintained a cozy atmosphere. I felt like I was in someone's trendy home in Manhattan, perhaps one that was holding a party or had been converted to a nightclub. As music pulsated, we wandered from room to room, paying more attention to the environment than the articles of clothing on display, and wondering how far down the rabbit hole went.

In one of the back rooms, a flash of white caught my peripheral vision. I turned, and thought for one moment that we had wandered into the ladies dressing room. A girl was moving around in what I thought was her underwear, but didn't seem fazed by a couple of creepy thugs lurking in the shadows. Instead, she was folding clothes and setting up a display. It wasn't until I saw a few others dressed the same way, that I realized it was a uniform, and that I must have seen one of them walking through the mall earlier when I was in the food court.

It's an interesting concept, complete with a fabricated backstory about the first store in Greenwich village. We even found some tags in the store about their French Bulldog logo. While the dog, “Trubble”, is probably based on the CEO's dog, the tag talked about a bulldog being the first customer at their “original” location. It's all marketing created by Abercrombie & Fitch.

I couldn't say what any of the actual products cost. B13 did consider buying a limited edition photography book on display. He summoned one of the dimwitted himbos overseeing one of the front rooms and asked for the price. “Uh that's like uh, lemme check.” A moment later he returned, opened the cover and looked at the slip of paper which simply said “37”. B13 pointed out that they were numbered limited edition books, and that the next one's paper said “36”, then “35”, and so on. One Tree OCD's Creek left to check again, and this time came back saying it was 50 bucks, not 37.

It's probably not the sort of place I'd actually shop in, but the concept and atmosphere were intriguing, shining in their juxtaposition against the other, more traditional commercial environments of the surrounding stores. I wonder if I should open a chain of geek stores, and make them look like my room or my cubicle? The computers, posters, action figures, and stacks of comics would make geeks as comfortable as trendy college kids would feel in a New York apartment. Technically, I suppose comic book and video game stores have been keen to this for years, and I've always felt at home in those places.

If a store could mimic your home, what would it be like?


Blogger b13 said...

A made up story about the dog and the store? :(

S.O.B.'s... and I will not answere that rhetorical question... no, I won't!

2/10/2007 3:34 PM  
Blogger Kev said...

"If a store could mimic your home, what would it be like?"

--Goodwill. :-)

2/10/2007 5:13 PM  

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