The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dollar Dreams

Living in Parkside you're never more than a free-throw away from a dollar store. Maybe you call it a 99 cent store, a bargain closeout store, a low-end general merchandise establishment or worthless plastic crap store. Whatever you call it, you gotta admit they're pretty ubiquitous around these parts. Ever wonder why?

I'll tell you why! It's a 15 billion dollar sector of the American economy, and anyone with a few "dollars" can create a store of their own. When I travel outside of NYC, particularly in rural or less affluent areas, the Dollar General or Family Dollar logo is a familiar site. Each store has more than 8,000 locations, and between the two of them they dominate the biz.

But here in NYC, recent immigrants from many countries choose the Dollar Store model for their entrepreneurial effort. It's really hard, from the outside, to see how so many of these stores can survive. But when you look under the hood, you find that a) it's easy to get up and running b) literal boatloads of merchandise hit our ports every day and c) there are tons of "middle men" companies only too happy to sell you this stuff by the crates. Add to that the fact that, if you're like me, it's REALLY REALLY hard to pass up some of these ridiculous bargains on things you really don't need. And it's fun! The Gem, 7 Brothers, Bargainland...sometimes I get dizzy in there, all the fake this and faux that. The colors! The smells! The prices!

Kole Imports is an example of the kind of company that help you stock your store with stuff. You gotta see the video on their site: KOLE VID.

Maybe that's not as fascinating to you as it is to me. Still, it's pretty amazing how many New Yorkers choose to pursue Dollar Dreams, which by the way, is still my favorite name for one of these stores. Every time I'd pass it on Fulton Avenue I'd think "yeah, forget about shooting for the stars. If all your dreams are dollar dreams, you got a pretty fair shot at living your fantasy life." Take that Gaga!

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