Friday, January 25, 2013

Eight Hundred and Thirty Two Nudes

No, this title was not chosen for the purpose of getting more blog followers, but it should help.

Eight hundred and thirty two nudes really did happen. Well, it happened to Dave.
But Dave came predisposed with the skill for digging up the craziest things. He was the kid who ran into the house with dead animals and anything else he could find in the back yard. Rumor has it, Dave was a little terror.

Now Dave is a big terror. Who knows what he and Billy are going to dig up on their buying trips. (lots more about Billy later because FE couldn't run without him!) 

Billy at the warehouse

By the way, those buying trips are how Dave and I started over twenty-five years ago, but then Dave saddled me with two kids.
...kidding, it was a choice. Well the first one was.

So for the last how-many years Billy has gone with Dave on endless buying trips, digging in old defunct factories and unearthing basements.

In fact, Dave and Billy have been on so many trips together, it’s total simpatico. Recently all three of us were at dinner on a buying trip upstate. When Dave left to go to the bathroom the waitress came over and Billy said “I’ll have a beer and he’ll start with the calamari and a glass of cabernet.”
*According to Dave and Billy, Red Lobster is known for their cabernet.

Anyway, Dave knows that I collect vintage portrait paintings.
So on one of his trips to Ohio Dave called me from the road and said “Jool, you're never gonna believe this, Billy and I are in the basement of a rabbi’s antique shop in the middle of nowhere and he has about eight hundred nude oil paintings from the 60’s and 70’s!” The rabbi told Dave that the paintings were the life work of one man, who’s nowhere to be found. 
One of the craziest finds in FE history!

Eight hundred canvases? The basement of an antique store belonging to a rabbi in the middle of nowhere? A rabbi... in the middle of nowhere? If it were anyone other than Dave and Billy my jaw would drop.

Keep in mind, we usually come across just one or two paintings

Dave pulled up to the store with the truckload of art and WOW! These paintings were quirky outsider art, like the odd thrift shop paintings I’ve been collecting since high school. Some of them are insanely weird and fantastic! Some of the nudes are wearing a necklace with a religious cross, or playing with a ventriloquist puppet, or wearing a santa hat. I conjure up thoughts about what this artist must have been like, and then I need a brain scrubber.

We brought some of the paintings into the store and surprise, they didn’t translate. For the short time they were in the store Ellen Degeneres happened to come in and she asked about buying one. But then she asked for one that was “less creepy.”

Now the complete body of work sits in Dave’s area of our warehouse in Jersey City (oh yeah, there’s plenty more about Dave’s “area” later). Dave is so used to the paintings stacked in huge piles exposed, literally, that when Noah and I showed up at the warehouse with some insurance adjusters Dave didn’t understand why their jaws dropped at the site of Dave standing there waving "hey guys!"... surrounded by his "art collection."

These are two of the more tasteful  ones

Still, I love these paintings. The odder the better, and they are odd! We'll use them for something some day. Maybe we’ll rent them out as a prop for a movie by some director like Steven Soderbergh who’s making a film about a strange and mysterious artist who's totally off the grid. Or maybe we’ll show them at the outsider art show.

Partners in crime!

Let’s put it this way, I like them a whole lot more than the twelve hundred glass cats (that don't stand up because they're missing a paw) that Dave and Billy brought home from their last trip.

(Steven Soderbergh...if you are interested in the paintings, email us at!)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tribute to Lincoln

In 1637 Samuel Lincoln came to America. He had two sons, Mordecai and Daniel.

Abe Lincoln                                                              Dave Lincoln

Mordecai Lincoln went on to have kids who had kids who had kids until they had Abraham Lincoln, the president.

Daniel Lincoln went on to have kids who had kids who had kids until they had David Lincoln, the Fishs Eddy buyer.

They’re dead ringers!
David Lincoln actually has a lot in common with his cousin Abe.
David Lincoln delivers his addresses in the store telling great stories and gaining him popularity among the people… well, the staff.
David Lincoln has kept Fishs Eddy united during perilous times… well, missing deliveries and drama in the stockroom.
And David Lincoln is most honest.
That’s right, it’s not just “Honest Abe”, it’s "Honest Dave!”

    Signs of an early buyer, David merchandising toys                   David Lincoln, the buyer he is today

As the buyer of all things Fishs Eddy, David Lincoln is an expert at putting lines together and editing product. It's not as easy as it looks!

But believe it or not, David Lincoln actually lives in sunny Palm Springs California. How does David Lincoln do his buying from Palm Springs California you ask? Well that’s a long story but in a nutshell, after a year of doing all of our buying from here in NYC, David told us that he wanted to live out his dream and go to California. We said please don’t leave us David Lincoln and he said I have to go and we said fine you’re that good David Lincoln….we'll telecommute. So David Lincoln's physical body was replaced with a speakerphone on our conference table where, for the last several years, we have had endless meetings about buying, budgeting, product development... and all things Fishs Eddy.

One time we did video chat but David Lincoln didn’t realize that on video chat you can see EVERYTHING so we decided to only use the conference line.

Always a good sport!
Every year we have a sale with a theme and one year David Lincoln let us pick on him, so we had a "Kill the Buyer Sale!"

Albert Pinkham Ryder is David’s favorite artist
My favorite part of going to the Chicago table-top show is stealing time with David Lincoln to go to the Chicago Art Institute, because David knows everything about art!

Now we are saying good-bye to David Lincoln. David is happy and settled and officially all things California.

So while you can’t look him up on Wikipedia and the History Channel hasn’t documented his life, yet, David Lincoln has made his own history here at Fishs Eddy. A truly brilliant buyer, a merchant through and through, a creative force and a huge wonderful personality… David Lincoln will be missed very much, most especially by yours truly.

Good luck David Lincoln.

Me and David at the Chicago Art Institute

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fishs Eddy vs. Sandy

Part 1

I know, I can’t be sarcastic or funny about Hurricane Sandy because it was a horrible thing that happened to the city. Before I go on, let me make it clear...I and everyone at FE is sending positive thoughts, volunteering and sending warm coats to those in need. And while the damage was minimal, something unexpected did happen to Fishs Eddy.

If you walk out of my apartment building on the 25th floor in Battery Park City and turn twenty feet to the left, you’d be leaning over a railing looking at the Hudson River.

The day before Sandy was due the police were driving around Battery Park City demanding all residents to evacuate “Danger Zone A.” Our son Ben is in college up at SUNY New Paltz, so he was fine. Dave, my 16-year-old daughter Susie (more about her later in the section of this blog called YIKES!) and I were at home bracing ourselves.

Dave loves this stuff so he decided that he would send Susie and I “off to safety” to his sister’s empty apartment on West 26th Street. In Dave’s words he was going to stay and “ride this bitch out.”

Susie and I took a taxi to Dave’s sister Lisa’s apartment. Oh, more on Lisa later because she’s super cool and designs Mario Batali's restaurants, logos, cookbooks, you name it.

My sister-in-law Lisa & Mario Batali
We go up to Lisa’s tiny apartment on the 42nd floor. It’s all cool. So what if there’s no food, one small bed, nothing to would be mother/daughter bonding. We’d start with a great movie. What? The TV doesn’t work? No problem we’ll just call Lisa at her country house and she’ll tell us how to work it.

Lisa told us her TV hadn’t worked in weeks. A few hours passed. Poor planning on the food situation. OMFG Susie forgot her flat iron! I forgot my book. Bickering turned into bigger bickering which turned into a full blown fight about I don't know what and it only stopped when we both realized we were in the same boat. Bonding schmonding! There was no way we were going to survive each other with no food, no TV, and (for Susie) no make-up bag, in that tiny apartment for however long Sandy was planning to stay.

GET OUT OF MY FACE! ...says she
We didn’t care that the police were pacing Battery Park City screaming into their stupid megaphones to evacuate Zone A. WE WERE SNEAKING BACK IN! We left Lisa’s and convinced the one taxi on the road to take us back downtown to the danger zone.

I’m not really sure what Dave was planning to do in our apartment all alone for the next few days, but if you could’ve seen the look on his face when Susie and I walked back in after he was sure he shipped us off...well, imagine you’ve just been told your winning lottery ticket was fifty cents, not fifty million.

I hadn’t even finished explaining to Dave why I was back home, and that I’d rather sink with Sandy than be stuck with "it" when we felt our building sway with the gust of the wind. Me, Susie and Dave stuck our heads out the window and stared down 25 floors to literally watch the Hudson River creep up to our front door. 

Room with a view

We took turns looking outside at the river and back at CNN thinking, any minute now our power will go down. We looked across the river and watched Jersey City go dark. We watched One World Trade Center and the other buildings north and south of us go dark. The news said that Chelsea went dark. OMG Lisa’s apartment, it's in Chelsea!

Our view of One World Trade Center 

We must have been in some strange lucky grid but we never lost power, not even for a minute. You should have seen my face when I realized I narrowly escaped being stuck on the 42nd floor for who-knows-how-many days without power, and WITH Susie!
...well, imagine that someone told you your fifty cent lottery ticket was really fifty million!

But in all seriousness, we did win the lottery by coming out unscathed. The damage isn’t going away and neither should our efforts to help.

And that’s where the next part of Fishs Eddy vs. Sandy comes in.

Part 2

The day after Sandy left town Dave and I went to the store to assess the damage.

We got out of the taxi at 14th Street. It was so strange to see Union Square filled with hundreds of Con Ed trucks parked neck and neck, instead of a farmer's market.

Union Square

As we walked a few blocks north to the store we had no idea what to expect. We could be closed for days or even weeks. OK, so maybe Fishs Eddy has a big reputation, but we’re a small business and having to close is a seriously huuuuge deal but’s all relative.

No power in the building and no power to make up for lost sales, ugh. So we had this idea. We would do a window display. 

That’s right, at Fishs Eddy when the going gets tough, the tough do windows!

Noah lives in the East Village so he walked up to the store to meet us.
(Lots more about Noah later because Noah is Dave’s younger cousin and our partner and Noah is really cool) Jen and Mike came in to meet us as well. (Also cool and also more about them later.)

Noah and Dave, 1991 and now

Dave and I had this idea to fill the corner window of the store with a ton of yellow Post-It notes, notes from us to Sandy. Jen, Mike, Noah, Dave and I grabbed Sharpies and started writing. Mike’s notes got political, Jen and Noah's were witty and I’m pretty much hilarious so between all of us we were coming up with some interesting messages to Sandy. I climbed into the window to start putting up the first handful of notes. I have no idea what we were thinking. There was hardly anybody on the street. It was totally dark and eerie, and who even cared about a new window at Fishs Eddy?

I bent down (inside the window) to separate more notes to put up and that’s when I felt the shadow of a small crowd. 

Then more people started walking over to see what the first people were looking at. Keep in mind: This was not a normal day. Most people were dragging suitcases and garbage bags filled with their stuff, looking to relocate to hotels uptown or some place with power. But wherever they were going, they strayed over to our window.

There was no power, but the one light bulb that did go on was our heads. After seeing the crowds we immediately stopped writing our own notes to Sandy, went outside the store with a box of Post-It notepads and Sharpies and started handing them out to the growing swarm of people gathered at the window.

Apparently EVERYONE had something to say. It took no convincing. Anyone that did seem reticent to write a note was clearly visiting from another country, so I would just ask them “where are you from?” They would say either France, or Ireland, or Pakistan, or Brazil, and I would say, “It's OK write it in your language.” And they did!

By that night we had an entire floor-to-ceiling window of little yellow Post-It notes to Sandy. They were funny, snarky, sad, poignant and political. They were in Arabic, Spanish, Italian and Japanese. They were all brilliant.

Some Post-It notes asked Sandy if she was trying to prove to the world that global warming does exist. Some notes thanked Sandy for the extended stay in New York City and others cursed Sandy for leaving them stranded. One note had a little drawing of Romney's house and said, "Hey Sandy, you missed a spot!" Another note said, "You're welcome, President Obama, for all the jobs that Sandy will create." One kid wrote a note thanking Sandy for getting him out of his math test, and another kid wrote a note saying he never wanted to go back to school so badly. There were notes about having to walk up thirty flights of stairs and notes about having to be stuck up thirty flights of stairs with a mother-in-law. And there were plenty of heartwarming messages to people who weren't lucky enough to stand at 19th and Broadway and write notes to Sandy.

Our corner window became a makeshift bulletin board for stunned locals and stranded tourists who just went through the worst natural disaster New York City has ever seen. It felt good to know that during a very difficult time we brought at least a tiny bit of levity by giving people a place to gather and a place express themselves.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Doing Dishes

How don't I have a blog?

I've had a dish and glassware store for over 25 years in New York City that's pretty well known (FYI if you do anything for more than 25 years you'll get a reputation for something, I can't promise what).

Dave has been my husband and business partner for all that time (you do the math) so there's lots to say about that.

Oh, and unlike all of those other bloggers out there with adorable little toddlers peeking out from behind a couch in a photograph taken in their adorable house is such a pigsty it would intimidate FEMA and I have two beastly teenagers that I'm currently trying to sell on Craigslist.

*Freight not included

But when you get a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes at Fishs Eddy, which includes my personal life because there is NO separation (see tax returns for details) you won't be able to stop looking. Yes, occasionally it may be like rubbernecking an accident, but most of the time it will excite and inspire you... because that's what happens to us everyday!

*Note to readers: Nothing in this blog will be staged for shock value. My mother-in-law hurling a pistol into the Hudson River really did happen.

Photo by David Mills

And don't worry, it's not all cynical. I really love doing dishes with my husband in this amazing store right smack on Broadway. The places we've been, the warehouses and factories we've seen, and the people we've met...everyday it's a new experience in the most exciting city in the world!

Oh, and I also really love all of the talented people I work with. They probably have way more productive stuff to share with you than I do, so stay tuned for that.

Of course it would've been great if I was smart enough to start blogging about Fishs Eddy when blogging came on the scene but I never got the memo. Also, you're talking to someone who's lived in New York City forever and has had the opportunity to buy super-ginormous lofts in Tribeca for next to nothing but she never did that either.
*For now on when I refer to my own stupidity I will call me, she.
*If I’m taking about Dave's stupidity I will call him Dave.

Considering that I've been "doing dishes" for SOOOOO long, I should have like eight million followers (I do however get followed in Duane Reade by security but that's because my unfortunate wardrobe needs a makeover.)

*Note to self: Have some kind of beauty make-over section in this blog.
**Double note to self: Get Sara to do it.

So with all that said, it would be great if you could spread the word quickly to help me get more followers, at least more than the creepy Duane Reade guy.

Did you get me followers yet? How am I gonna get sponsors if you don't get me any followers????

Did I just say lyrics from a Pink Floyd song?

Well anyway, here we go.

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A Fishs Eddy blog.