Employee Of The Week: Nach Waxman at Kitchen Arts & Letters

Shopclerk070625_198Usually, we are ready with this bright and early on Monday, but as the previously noted Fido is now officially dead, and the long awaited Fido II has not yet arrived, we are posting a little light this week.
Having gotten that out of the way, we were happy to see that this week's Shop Clerk in New York Magazine is Nach Waxman of Kitchen Arts & Letters. It's always a little tricky to comment on a bookstore clerk, because one always has the sense that in order to provide proper service they would have to read all the books in the store, which is impossible. On top of that, in a cooking bookstore they would have to not only have read everything, but actually have cooked or eaten a substantial amount of things in the books - doubly impossible. While The Shophound is a novice cook at best, we admit to a recent addiction to America's Test Kitchen, and a frequent compulsion to browse the aisles of Williams-Sonoma for absolutely no reason. It's just sort of comforting to see all that shiny kitchen equipment, ready to be used. Reading a cookbook makes us think that we will make something wonderful from it.
We probably won't, but it looks like Nach is somewhat more advanced than we are,

NYMag: Which is your favorite cookbook of all time?
Nach Waxman:
That’s like asking someone to name his favorite child. One great book is called Cucina Fresca, on Italian cold and room-temperature foods. Another is Parisian Home Cooking.
Any guilty pleasures?

The Wonder Bread Cookbook, The Twinkie Cookbook,
some Star Wars cookbooks.

And yet, we see he's an unabashed junk-food-junkie.
Now exactly what would one find in the Star Wars Cookbook?
Ask A Shop Clerk: Nach Waxman (NYMag)
Kitchen Arts & Letters 1435 Lexington Ave, Upper East Side

Employee Of The Week: Folami Greene at Kirna Zabête

FolamikirnazabeteWell, It's about time we met a new shop clerk. Oh, how we miss the days when we could look forward to meeting a new retail warrior every Monday in New York Magazine. Today, however, we get to meet the colorfully dressed Folami Greene of Kirna Zabête, the SoHo designer emporium that is doing its share to keep the neighborhood's fashion credibility amid the onslaught of the likes of Von Dutch and...we can barely stand to type it...the Crocs store. we're not sure how long she has been working there. She seems to feel that a customer dropping $10,000 at once is an unusual occurrence, and yet, given their stock (Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Rick Owens, etc.) we would think that would happen on a daily basis. Isn't that, like, what one shoe costs there these days? Greene gives us the inside scoop on exactly how she manages to dress so well on her shop clerk's wages, a discount and a clothing allowance, which puts her ahead of most in her position. Somehow she manages to plug two other stores, which might be vexing to her employers, but she does illuminate why Harlem living is still risky.

Do you live in Soho?
No, Harlem. I love to shop at Pieces, on 135th Street. Great jackets, tees, sandals, by homegrown designers. It’s just three blocks from my house. Very dangerous.

Well, that's a big improvement over the crackhouses that were there twenty hears ago, but apparently no less addictive.
Ask a Shop Clerk: Folami Greene (NYMag)
Kirna Zabête 96 Greene St.,between Spring & Prince Street, SoHo

Employee Of The Week: Sam Buffa at Freemans Sporting Club

Shopclerk070514_198It's really feeling more like Employee of the Month isn't it? For whatever reason, New York Magazine can't seem to find that many shop clerks worth interviewing, or maybe they have just gotten bored with the concept. We haven't, but this week they have found Sam Buffa who sounds more like management than a clerk at Freemans Sporting Club, that little men's store by Freemans Alley that is either a brilliant imagination of a northeastern hunting lodge or ridiculously art-directed-to-death in a style we have come to know as "Authentically Fake" pioneered by the granddaddy of ye-olde-store-as-theatre, Ralph Lauren. We have learned from Ginger Hargett at Alessi that these interviews are only as good as the questions that get asked, so it's not surprising that Denise Penny has focused mostly on the store's décor and backroom barbershop as they are still its most striking features. No mention is made of its fabled basement archery range. Almost by accident, it seems, she manages to get a telling answer  regarding the store's philosophy:

NYMag: Why “Sporting Club”? Is there something to join?
Sam Buffa: We’re not exclusionary—there’s no membership or initiation. It’s pretty much a group of my friends. We all work in art and fashion. We go camping, fishing, on motorcycle rides. It’s nice to know how to start a fire, how to shoot a gun. It feels good to be a man sometimes

Ick. OK, so we're not much for camping, but, really, equating riflery with "feeling like a man" kind of makes us laugh and cringe at the same time. This is the state of modern hipsterdom? It's so blatantly symbolic that we just hope he's kidding. And yet he looks so serious in that picture.

Ask A Shop Clerk: Sam Buffa (NYMag)
Freemans Sporting Club, 8 Rivington St., near Bowery, Lower East Side
Previously: Horacio Goes Shopping: Luddite's Delight on the L.E.S.

Shop Clerk Talks Back! Ginger Hargett Defends Herself

Askshop070326_198It's always good to see who is Googling herself. We didn't see a new Shop Clerk this week, but no matter. We are reprinting Alessi employee Ginger Hargett's comment in regards to her profile a couple of weeks ago. It's not often we get a direct response, or at least an intelligent, thoughtful one.

In my defense, I must say the stand-in interviewer was decidedly, boringly retarded. For exactly one hour she bombarded me with questions solely regarding product. Not about the store, or working there, or questions about me as a real live creative being with an identity outside of Alessi. She's an assistant at [New York Magazine]; doesn't she read the column? She asked: "What do you clean the products with?" "If you were signing up for the bridal registry, what would you pick?" "What's the difference between an expensive bowl and a cheap one?" I kid you not. Not only that, but 1) I was answering these questions 1.5 weeks into my vacation a million miles from NYC, and 2) she totally misquoted me. I don't talk like that. But hey, toast anyone?

Ginger, you have our respect for speaking out. (Although we take issue with the use of the word "retarded". It's fun to say, but there is a real reason why it is so un-PC.) New York Magazine, it's on you to get the interesting info, and shame on you for interrupting a vacation!
We would have toast with you anytime, Ginger. You're still adorable.
Employee of the Week: Ginger Hargett at Alessi

Employee Of The Week: David Reeves at Duncan Quinn

DavidduncanquinnIf New York had a Men's Tailoring District like Savile Row in London, then that is probably where we would find Duncan Quinn's cozy little shop, but as it doesn't, it is tucked away on a quiet block in NoLita just steps from the not so very rarefied Chinese Kitchen Supply District. That is where we encountered David Reeves, the shop clerk of choice this week in New York Magazine. It's been a while since we've had the pleasure of a face to face meeting with one of the lucky salesmen, but David promptly introduced himself and welcomed us warmly into the lush, some might say floridly decorated shop. Duncan Quinn is a practitioner of that particular subgenre of menswear known as classic with a sophisticated twist. His version of British tailoring is extra fitted and slightly shrunken but always crisp and  more than a little dandyish in vivid colors. Quinn has a penchant for details like matching covered buttons, hacking pockets and the occasional unorthodox sleeve seam. It's not for everyone, and that's why it's mostly custom made. David was extremely helpful in illuminating the shop's offerings which also include an array of ready-made shirts as well as ties, pocket squares and exclusively made silver cuff links and studs and various other accessories. Quinn rounds things out with a selection of decidedly non-traditional English shoes from Jeffery-West.
Duncanquinn In his interview, David does a skillful job of plugging his employer without embarrassing himself, as well as warning against the dangers of excessive dry-cleaning, revealing only a no-nonsense British sense of professionalism:

Q-How long do you spend with a customer?
I’ve had customers occupy up to five hours of my time. It’s not like buying a packet of crisps—or chips, as you might say.

In fact, he is somewhat less prissy in person, which is good because in a shop this small, nobody wants that much attitude when they are buying a red dress shirt with navy blue lined cuffs.

Ask a Shop Clerk: David Reeves of Duncan Quinn (NYMag)
Duncan Quinn 8 Spring Street near The Bowery, NoLita


Employee Of The Week: Ginger Hargett at Alessi

AskshopgingerIt has been forever since we have covered the shop clerks! Well, It's been forever since we had a shop clerk to cover, since the last time one ran in New York Magazine was in the beginning of  February, and, we have to admit, we skipped Aziz Osmani, the exotic foods and spices guy. It was Fashion week, we were busy. Sue us.
Zahahadiscrevasse Anyhoo, this week we have the lovely and winsome Ginger Hargett from the Alessi store in SoHo. While we are glad to have the column back in action, we only wish Ginger could have offered a little more dirt on day-to-day life at the shiny Alessi store. Is it annoying to have that coffee bar taking up the front of the store? Is the constant fingerprint watch with all those sparkling products more pressure than a shopgirl should have to bear.? C'mon Ginger, spill it!
Peterzumthoralessi Stefanogiovannonialessi We could have guessed that the Michael Graves teapot would be the top item, and Ginger dutifully plugs new products including a vase designed by Zaha Hadid and a Peter Zumthor peppermill, which must have earned her a pat on the head from management. She fairly gushes over a toaster by Stefano Giovannoni.

If a kitchen appliance can be sexy, this is it. It’s really slim; it’s stainless steel. There’s a rack you can buy that goes on top of the toaster, and you can warm up a croissant or you can do paninis with it. It smooshes the sandwich down and heats it up. Your imagination can run wild in terms of sandwich options.

Well, as much as we love toast (and we really do), when our imaginations run wild, it doesn't involve toasters or sandwich options. We'll leave it at that. Ginger, you're adorable, but we certainly hope you get out more.

Ask A Shop Clerk: Ginger Hargett (NYMag)
Alessi 130 Greene Street between Houston & Prince, SoHo

Employee Of The Week: Peter Neville of Tent & Trails

Peterneville070205_198It's been a few weeks since New York Magazine has sent us scrambling all over town to seek out the weeks chosen sales professional. Our favorite feature is back, however, and on this frigid Monday we found ourselves all the way down on Park Place to search out Peter Neville of Tent & Trails. If The Shophound were to take up hiking (and that's a really big if, but just go with us here), we would probably take ourselves to Paragon or Eastern Mountain Sports, but now we have learned that those stores are just for amateurs. Tent & Trails is the store for hard core enthusiasts, which we could tell by the Tenttrails décor which was, well, nonexistent. In fact, this is not really a store for browsing at all, because the relatively small store is literally crammed to the rafters with goods, and nearly any browsing would require assistance. Another indication that Tent & Trails is not for the casual shopper is it's location on Park Place which is convenient to...City Hall? It's definitely a destination to be sought out, but worth the search. Today there was a rack full of popular Nuptse jackets from The North Face on sale for $75, an excellent buy if you are an XXL or bigger.
As for Peter, he was busy helping a customer, demonstrating how the shop may be low on ambiance, but it is very high on service, and as if to prove that their focus is the serious hiker/camper,

NY MAGAZINE I saw you also have dog packs.
PETER NEVILLE Yes, we sell backpacks that you put on your dog. It’s a really great way to bring your pet out on the trail as long as you’re not going to do something super-super-technical; he can carry your food in his pack.                      

NYMAG By the way, are you a former Boy Scout?
PN I am not; it’s not something I regret.

We feel the same way, but probably for very different reasons.

Tent & Trails 21 Park Pl., Financial District


Employee Of The Week: Jesse Johnson at Flight 001

Askshop070115_198This week's Shop Clerk in New York Magazine is Jesse Johnson of Brooklyn's new Flight 001 store. Flight 001 has, for a while now, been the fun, campy alternative to your basic, jumbly Innovation Luggage shop. And we want you to know that we didn't cheat and went in person to the new location on Smith Street, just in case some of you were thinking we were a wee bit lazy last week. We have always enjoyed their "Airport '77" décor and they seem to have scoured the earth for the most amusing travel accessories and gadgets as well as all sorts of indestructible looking hard sided luggage. The Shophound particularly liked the Hideo Wakamatsu bags in camouflage pattern or, for the very daring, leopard. Jesse has all sorts of good advice and information in his interview, but as usual, those crafty editors at New York have saved the best for last.

Img_0176 What do you do for in-flight anxiety?
I take a Valium and do a shot at the bar. Klonopin works really well, too. I’ve made the mistake of taking it too early, passing out, and drooling all over myself while everyone else was boarding. So, twenty minutes before boarding is a good time to take it.

We don't know the reason for the rampant oversharing in this column, but the shop clerks are forever divulging all sorts of things better kept to themselves. Having said that, knowing when to take your Valium can be invaluable information, so thank you Jesse!

As an update for last week, we did receive a nice message from The World of Golf's Eric Bianchini, last week's clerk, who took his extra bit of attention with much better humor than some others have (you know who you are).

Clearly you are our ideal customer.  Someone that could certainly benefit from all the high tech new equipment that we have installed.  Give me an hour and I will have you hitting the ball straighter and impressing your friends with all your new golf knowledge; and at only $100 that is cheaper than an night on the town or about the same as dinner at Jerry's.

The Shophound thanks you for your kind invitation, Eric, although you may have overestimated our research budgets just a little, as well as how impressed our friends are by golf knowledge. We are press, after all, and have become accustomed to all kinds of free swag complimentary promotional materials. Should we ever reconsider our personal stance on the sport, however, you will be the first one we call.

Flight 001 132 Smith Street, Boerum Hill Brooklyn

Employee Of The Week: Eric Bianchini

Askshop070101_198Well, the Holidays are over. Now we can get things back to normal, and one of the first signs to move on is a fresh set of media after a month of year-end double issues and "best of" surveys. This week, New York Magazine presents us with Eric Bianchini of The World of Golf, a store that is on out daily routine route, and we have passed by literally thousands of times.
We will probably never go in.
It's nothing against Eric or the fine establishment he represents. In fact, it looks like an excellent resource for the golf enthusiast. But The Shophound is retired from golfing after a brief but shining career. It is for this reason that quotes like this:

NY Magazine: What 2007 item are you excited about?
Eric Bianchini: Square drivers. Also, the highest-tech launch monitor available debuts here this month. There are only six in the country. Phil Mickelson and Annika Sorenstam are fit on this; it’s by appointment, $100 an hour, and the unbelievably accurate data helps us know what kind of equipment is good for you.

mean next to nothing to us. We simply don't find ourselves to be qualified to fairly review a golfing store. We played golf once. On our first tee, we hit a drive with such a slapstick quality that, to put it simply, rather than going forward, the ball flew back over our head and into the woods behind us. We were kindly allowed to try again, and (we swear we have witnesses) promptly shot a hole-in-one. (And this is real not miniature golf we are talking about.) It was at that moment that we realized that our only choice was to retire from golf forever, because it was fairly certain that our career in that sport could only go downhill from there. And so we did, with the firm belief that one should go out at the top of one's game, and we haven't looked back. So far the only drawback is that we cannot comment with any authority about The World of Golf beyond saying that it looks like a nice store, and worth checking out if you like golf. Sorry, but even The Shophound has limits.

The World of Golf, 147 East 47th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues

Employee Of The Week: Daniel Lemay, Christmas Tree Seller

Askshop061218_198_1 This week's Shop Clerk in New York Magazine, is really more of a sidewalk clerk. Daniel Lemay, who sells Christmas Trees on East 10th Street for the Holiday Season, has given The Shophound a lesson in tree purchasing. We have actually never bought a Christmas Tree, not that there's anything wrong with that. It just happens that The Shophound does not celebrate Christmas, so tree shopping is a whole new world to us. Here's just a few of the things we learned form Daniel today:

  1. Tree sellers are mostly French Canadian. We had never really thought to ascribe a nationality to this profession, but next time we pass one, we will be sure to call out a hearty "Bonjour!" in our best Celine Dion accent.
  2. A seven foot Fraser fir can cost between $100 to $150. That's, like, a lot for a tree that isn't getting planted in the ground, and will shed on your carpet. Of course we could easily spend that much on a Menorah, but we can re-use it every year. Also, you will save money buying your tree downtown, but then you will have to schlepp it back uptown somehow.
  3. Don't put your tree near the radiator. Well, this seems pretty obvious, but then, some people need the obvious explained to them, like continually adding water, and not using faulty electrical ornaments.

Thank you Daniel. Since we have no intention of ever buying a Christmas Tree, and these tips are at best marginally useful to us personally, we can be sure that we will never forget them, and they will remain lodged in our brain taking up space we could use for information that we actually do need. Welcome to our world. Happy Holidays.