Thursday, June 3, 2010

Retail Therapists: Karen and Latrina

The gates of boing! were partway down and the sign in the window said, "Gone crazy." I pushed forward into the store anyway, hopeful, as I was desperate for a last-minute baby shower gift.

"Come in, come in, don't mind the mess," said the owner, Karen Paperno. She pointed to something that didn't look at all messy.

I smiled. "I like your sign..." I said.

She smiled back. "Yeah, well..."

I met Karen quite a while ago, at the beginning of my gold star project, in Parco. She was wearing an incredibly beautiful scarf then, and we had talked about how important it is, even when you're not exactly feeling it, maybe especially when you're not feeling it, to put your best fashion foot forward. I had given her a star and she had put it right in the middle of her forehead happily. It seemed to suit her, as it did this time when I gave her a star for letting me in to the store, crazy or no.

She, as always, looked fabulous, sporting an exquisite necklace and a perfect summer dress. She immediately knew the Miracle Blanket I asked for and found me one in a suitable color for a baby boy, wrapping it sweetly.

"It's hard to run a business..." I said, looking around, watching her work, imagining all that went into buying and merchandising all the items in not just this but also her other location, boing boing, elsewhere in Park Slope.

She shook her head. "Absolutely. And even though you do the hard thing, the hard work, you don't always take the time to appreciate what you've done, to reward yourself...there is always 'what's next.'"

She looked up at me and pointed to her star. "I guess that's what you do..."

I laughed. "I try!"

Talking to Karen reminded me of a conversation I had struck up with a gussied-up girl on the subway the previous day, a girl whose gold belt inspired me to go over to her and add to her gold. She looked great.

Turns out she worked at Uniqlo and we got to talking about how busy it was in the store, how popular the current Costello Tagliapietra line has been for the chain.

"That's great!" I had said. She looked at me like I was crazy.

"Not really," she said. "It just means I have to stay later because the store is a huge mess..."

My mouth formed an O. Right. When you don't own the store, you don't reap the benefits of its success usually, you just have to work harder. That's why I gave Latrina Troutman her gold star.

Any way you slice it, owner or no, sometimes, a lot of the time, working in a store can make you crazy. But it is all for the greater good: retail therapy is reward for so many, myself included. So, thank you ladies

Have you received a star from me? Want to share your story? E-mail me at

No comments:

Post a Comment