Saturday, February 26, 2011

NY Times Article

photo by Peter Wynn Thompson for The New York Times

Last week Jay Goltz wrote a post in the New York Times about me and my dilemma about whether or not I should open a store. Let's just say I had no idea what an amazing outpouring of feedback it would create! Little did I realize that a very informal and casual conversation I had with Jay a few weeks ago could be such an inspiration for a real-life interest story that would put focus on this crossroads I find myself in these days.

It turns out that I am not alone. There were many folks who shared their war stories owning their own businesses and I thank them for sharing! I agree that it is grueling and often brutal.

This leaves me with even more to ponder- I see that there are many, many more possibilities that I hadn't even thought of before. It really comes down to leveraging my assets and skills and crafting that into a business perhaps other than a brick and mortar.

Here's the thing though: I find it so very sad that our world is becoming so detached from human contact- the idea that an internet business can be more successful than a beautiful shop is such a hard pill to swallow when you are as visual and tactile as yours truly. It's sad that people are drifting away from the shopping experience and that the only relationship they will have in the future is with their keyboard-operated shopping basket. Call me old-fashioned or nostalgic, but I love engaging all my senses when I shop- you can't do this with a computer! It's the dawn of the "numbing of our senses" that internet shopping has created. Not to mention, relating to a human being. To be fair, if you live out in the sticks and can't get out to shop often, then maybe getting the shop come to you in the form of home delivery is OK-but for the rest of us who live in urban areas- I thought we thrived on stepping into shops for the all-out experience. The seeing, touching, tasting and smelling products before you buy blindly.....

Clearly my decision isn't just a practical one-there's an element of preserving the past that is gnawing at my core. I come from a long line of retailers: my grandmother and grandfather opened the family hardware store in 1921- it's still there and going strong 90 years later (is that possible??) Wow. No wonder this is so hard.

My grandmother, Sophie Tarzian, taken by her sister, Lily, in front of Tarzian Hardware circa 1940

I don't have an easy decision that's for sure. I am, however, open to a happy medium. It's out there and I am going to find it.


  1. congrats on the NYT features. Now if you HAD that start-up biz, it would've driven traffic for months! (Just ask Starry Kitchen)

  2. The other unfortunate numbing of our senses applies to the shop keep providing customer service in the specialty shops mentioned. Recently I went into a high end kitchen speciality shop, locally owned. Four employees were gathered at the counter having a fun, spirited conversaton (I'm all for a fun work environment). I stood at the counter unacknowledged for a few moments before kindly interrupting. My interruption was met with obvious displeasure and I was briskly marched to the area of the store for the item I was requesting without a single word. After examining said item, I went home and ordered it online. At least the computer can't sling attitude!

  3. Wow- sorry to hear that! that is very sad indeed! It seems that some shop owners are not investing in their employees and are not hiring the proper people. No one said it was easy, but having people who enjoy what they do is always a good start to a successful retail operation-that and proper training (and manners too!)