New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, October 23, 2009

No Students After 1


I would guess that you will not find another sign like this in New York City. Students are typically afforded privileges, and their regular business is encouraged - student loans, student discounts, etc. (These days, student discounts are ironic. In New York City, many students appear to be better off than many of the residents.)

In the garment district, you will often see signs "wholesale only" - a warning that business is open only to manufacturers and the trade, not to retail customers. This is a strictly a business issue - merchants posting signs like this work on smaller profit margins and are not interested in selling a yard or fraction of a yard of fabric. They cater to those who buy one or more entire bolts of fabric at discounted pricing.

Being a wholesaler/distributor in the city, however, poses a unique problem for many vendors, since they often occupy ground floor spaces on streets with retailers and foot traffic. Even neighborhoods which at one time were predominantly commercial or industrial now have many residential tenants and visitors.

At Kaufman Shoe Repair Supplies at 346 Lafayette, even though the business caters to the shoe repair industry, many of the products are of interest to the consumer or art student and are sold in sizes and quantities reasonable to someone outside the trade. Items like foam crepe rubbers, specialty leathers, dyes, and adhesives are virtually nonexistent elsewhere in the city.

Kaufman opens at 6:30 AM and closes at 2 PM. In their final hour of business, there is no time for casual shoppers and perusers of merchandise. You must know what you want and not make it difficult to service regular accounts who come just before closing. I have done business with Kaufman from time to time over the last 30 years and have found them professional and helpful overall.

I am reminded, however, of an incident that is indelibly branded in my mind as one of the most hostile retail encounters I have ever witnessed in New York City. I was waiting for service in a very busy lumberyard whose core business was the contracting trade but was certainly open to retail. Dealing with customers who are often unsure of what they want or what they are doing can be tiring to someone accustomed to tradespeople who know exactly what they want, and one salesman in particular was at the breaking point. With a room full of customers, he glared at an individual who was asking too many questions and said, "Sir, this is not a f**king university! If you don't know what you want, leave." I wonder, would this mean no students after 1?

6 comments:

An Honest Man said...

Or possibly just 'no students'! However I have to admit to a sneaking sense of sympathy with the salesman.

Brian Dubé said...

An Honest Man - I pass on this one :)

Dubai Photo Story said...

Interesting!!!!

Simon said...

I am thinking that these signs are the product of many many encounters with "customers" which cost more than they bring in. And yes they are offensive and rude to the intended demographic but this is the intent presumably.

jb said...

Someone worked out that 30% of his customers generated 220% of his profits...

Ross said...

Being a student I have been to many places for supplies. Some look at you and treat you like you are a chore. Others are more than helpful because who knows what we could turn into. If they are nice to us once, in the future if we open a studio or something. We could go back to them because of that one time they were patient and a pleasure to deal with. I'm a repeat customer for some places because of that and recommend them to others.