Richie, Joanne, Sears discussed on The Atlas Obscura Podcast


50 years later, grandma's bar is long gone. It's a medical center now. And the Sears in Brooklyn is heading down the same road. Now the end of an era, the last Sears department store in New York City is shutting its doors and it is opening Eleanor Roosevelt at its opening Eleanor on a cold gray day in November of last year. I met up with Joanne and Richie. Hi. How are you? Good. Hello, Richie. There were big yellow signs on the chain link fence that surrounds the parking lot. Thank you for blowout sale. Nothing held back. Everything must go. Oh my God, it's like empty in here. All this stuff has been moved up here. A lot of the stuff from dancing. It's a couple weeks before the official closing date, but it kind of feels like they might run out of merchandise before then. They're even selling the store fixtures. And then we had a little area over here that they had in some ways. In some way that would go up to the third floor and stock would be. That's when Sean hid in the dumbwaiter and scared the out of some of the salesmen in the hardware apartment. We remember all the department numbers. Really? The department's 34, the hardware was 9, paint was 30. What useless information that stays in our brains for this long, right? 50 years later. And that's where the area cashier was. So there was a booth there, and I used to ring up all the tickets for the big, big ticket items. Right here. Right over there. And right next to me was tobacco, believe it or not. There was a whole area so cigarettes and tobacco. That was cataloged, routine and I are having an argument about where catalog was, but I'm sure that. Over there, no matter what you win. We'll see. We'll ask somebody. Right over here. The vacuum is there's only a handful of items left in the store. Still, Joanne finds something to buy. A box of hair dye. Yeah, I mean, $3. I mean, I could definitely press up a deal. I'm embarrassed. As she checks out, Richie can't help himself. He's the kind of guy who talks to everyone. Including the teenage cashiers bringing us up. We worked here 50 years ago. Was saying goodbye to the 50 years ago. They met here. Yes. If you didn't hear that, one of the cashiers said, my parents too. Your parents met here? Really? Wow. Wow. See there's something about one. You know what I'm gonna give you 81 cents because I haven't. I can't believe your parents that did your parents made here too. They found it all time. For Richie and Joanne, Sears was so many beginnings. The beginning of their careers. Richie went on to work for the navy, doing inventory logistics, stuff he'd learned how to do at Sears. And Joanne says that she decided to get her PhD in psychology after dealing with so many interesting people in the customer service department. Today she's a psychologist. Sears was the beginning of some of their deepest friendships. The weekend before I spoke with Richie and Joanne, a bunch of the Sears friends got together at Steve's house. They got all dressed up, drank wine, had such a good time that they ended up spending the night instead of driving home. And of course, it was the beginning of Richie and Joanne's 40 year marriage. Where would we be if it wasn't for Sears? Where the hell would we be? We'd be like, not knowing each other. We wouldn't be knowing you. We'd be really right. If not for Sears, they wouldn't know me. Because Richie and Joanne are my boyfriend's parents. So in an alternate universe, if there's no Sears, there's no Richie and Joanne. And if there's no Richie and Joanne, they never have a son. Mike. And if there's no mic, I'm single. I guess I owe this Sears a lot too. The store may be closed, but Richie and Joanne still carry a part of Sears with them. And I mean that literally. Back when they first got engaged, Joanne was kind of a hippie. Didn't want an engagement ring. How often did I say? She always said I'll get you one. You just tell me I'll buy you an engagement ring. You know, what a frivolous waste of money. I don't need this now, you know, whatever. We went back to Sears when it was closing. 50 years later, we went to the jewelry department, which was one of the departments I used to work into. And they had like two or three engagement rings in the display case. And I tried one on it and it fit me perfectly. And I said to Ritchie, I think we got to do this. Now I have a diamond ring with from Sears. At this part of it probably is that it is what it was 80% off. Going out of business sale. So it was 80%. Nothing. That's what makes Joanne happy as an 80% off. The last Sears in Brooklyn closed in November of 2021. It's not clear what will happen to the building. But the art deco facade is landmarked, so that's not going anywhere. Special thanks to Richie and Joanne for sharing their story. Our podcast is a co production of Atlas obscura and witness stocks. The production team includes Dylan. Doug baldinger, Chris naka. Camille Stanley. Willis Ryder Arnold. Sarah Wyman, manolo Morales, McKenna Smith, Gianna Palmer, Tracy Samuelson. John delore, Peter Clowney. Our technical director is Casey holford. This episode was sound designed and mixed by. Loose Fleming. I'm Johannes Mayer, wishing you all the wonder in the world. I'll see you next time..

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