Peering into a storefront window with a bit of confusion, my friend and I slowly turned the knob, cracked open the door slightly, and meekly called out to a faint silhouette of a store keeper at the back of the store, “Are you still open?”
Dressed like a poster child for the fifties, a young women with flashing red hair, bobbed and twisted and pulled back with a black and white polk-a-dot bandana, approached us waving with the gesture of ‘no no, we’re closed.’ The adventure could have been over, just like that, if it weren’t for my gregarious friend Ana who slipped in a question before I had a chance to close the door: “What are your hours?”
Matching the color of her hair, the bright red lipstick on the young woman’s lips beamed across the room, illuminated by her pale complexion and black high wasted pants and black tank. “We close at 8pm during the weekdays,” she replied as she walked towards the door.
It was 8:10pm but she had forgotten to lock the door and the store sign meant to lure shoppers inside was still out on the sidewalk.
“I just wanted to finish this song before I locked up,” she laughed, referring to the music echoing throughout the store.
“Ah, bummer. We wanted to see the new store. How long have you been open?” I asked.
“About a month and a half.”
The store keeper, whose name I soon learned was Claire, then began to unveil the master plans for the shop. A coffee and ice cream bar were soon going to replace the front of the store, which was currently occupied with an array of screen printed shirts and tanks. As a funky, hip clothing store that does screen printing in-house, this was an unexpected– yet brilliant– idea. The store planned to make their shop into a lounge with shopping and art in the back and food, drink and hanging out in the front.
I expressed to Claire that I couldn’t quite grasp how it all would come together, prompting her to invite us in so she could describe it better. As she pointed to where the coffee and ice cream would go, a glimpse of a green caught my eye. All the way down at the back of the store a door was open leading into what looked like a backyard.
“Do you guys have a backyard?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, sure come on in and check it out. I was going to have a smoke, so I’ll come join you.”
As Ana and I wondered into the back of the store, I asked if the space was going to be open to the public. Claire said, “Well, kind of,” and then told us about how they throw events, art shows and parties out there. The piles of empty beer bottles crammed into cases upon cases lining the entrance to the backyard seemed to match her story.
I then told Claire that I was an artist and wanted to hear more about what they do. Next thing I know 20 minutes had past and conversation had gotten to the point where Ana and Claire were showing each other photos of their pets on their iPhones.
This city makes me smile every day.