Thursday, May 20, 2010

Loehmann's Got its Start in Brooklyn

Colson Whitehead's definition of a New Yorker has stayed with me. In The Colossus of New York (2003), he wrote, if I recall correctly, that you don't have to be native to the city to be a New Yorker. You become a New Yorker when you pass some building, some business, some empty lot, and say , "Hey, that used to be.." I guess, it's once you've been here long enough to become attached to some place - a great bagel shop or a little corner bar, and then poof, it's gone. New York history.

I was reminded of this after reading a post on Brownstoner about the original Loehmann's, which was in Crown Heights, started by a woman named Frieda Loehmann. It was her son Charles that would go on to expand the store into the chain it is today. But you can tell from the story, what a beloved little spot the original store was. Here's an excerpt from the post:

"The shop was originally called the Original Designer Outlet, and was a woman's specialty shop selling designer overstock. The address was 1476 Bedford Ave, soon to be one of the most famous addresses in Brooklyn. The store, always called Loehmann's,was an enormous success. Frieda Loehmann became known as the Grand Dame of Cut-Rate Fashion. Long before stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall's, long before and designer outlets malls, Frieda and her Brooklyn Loehmann's store ruled. All of the comedy routines about women fighting over clothes and shoes at samples sales started here, as did the bargain basement tradition of women in slips trying on clothes barely hidden behind lines of clothing hanging from pipes..."

1 comment:

Brenda from Flatbush said...

Love that Colson Whitehead essay and esp. that definition of a New Yorker--deeply true.