9 Jun 2009 8:00 am   //   Filed under: Brooklyn, New York is different

The ghosts of Non Stop Discount

This is one of my favorite buildings in my neighborhood, at 19th and 5th Avenue. Why do I like it so much?

Because when you walk by it, all you see is Non Stop Discount, a pretty typical Brooklyn variety store. (They have great prices on fans.) But the more you look, the more you see. Stand back and it’s clear this building used to be a bunch of other things. At the top, there’s a sign for BA Furniture. Below that, there’s an even-more faded logo for Frost Stores. The words “Warehouse Outlet” are there, too, along with callouts for “Washers” and “Televisions” and other faded things. Below the Non Stop Discount signage, there’s even fresher paint: graffiti tags.

This building is probably 100 or 120 years old. How many different coats of paint have been on it? How many different stores has it contained? Did any of them make anybody rich, or drive anybody to ruin?

I like to live in a neighborhood that has ghosts. People here reuse old shells with the resourcefulness of hermit crabs.