Thursday, July 13, 2000
Keeping score? One more loss
There's a ladder where a life-sized cardboard John Wayne used to be. And I couldn't find the whoopie cushions anywhere.
Maybe they've already moved to the new place. After 54 years in the heart of Cincinnati, Brown Novelty Co. is moving. It's amazing they managed to hold on as long as they did.
Finally, he just couldn't sell enough plastic kazoos at 121/2 cents per to make ends meet. It's always been tough to pin your living on hula skirts and fake dog poop. Exotic, for sure, but not expensive. Volume was the key. Traffic. But now Brown Novelty is surrounded by vacant stores. And occupied parking spots.
Fish ponds and bingo
The new store is at 561 Reading Road, between Broadway and Liberty Street. It's 7,000 square feet about the same as the current location at 312 W. Fourth St. but it comes with 20 parking spots.
Gordon Braun, who took over the business from his father, Charles, has coped admirably, even heroically. A customer, say somebody in charge of a fish pond for a church festival, might call on her car phone to say she'd driven around the block four times and still couldn't find a space.
Lost in the morass of construction and about to lose her religion, she would be rescued at the curb by Gordon with a bunch of plastic leis and praying hands bookmarks.
Lots of repeat customers, Gordon says. He expects to be out by the end of the month. I'm glad we could find something in the city, even if it isn't downtown. He looked at cheaper space, he says, in Blue Ash and Northern Kentucky. But my dad loves Cincinnati. And so do I.
Loyalty. Kind of an old-fashioned virtue. Much like his emporium, where the whoopie cushion is about as naughty as it gets. A stern sign warns that you must be 18 years of age to purchase a stink bomb. Imagine that. People wringing their hands about carding kids for alcohol and tobacco, and Gordon makes them show ID to buy a dollar stink bomb.
This store sells little white baby shoe nutcups. And blue ribbons that say Super Dad and erasers imprinted with God loves you.
Most of Gordon's business is with schools and churches. Bingo cages, games, prizes. Fifty-four years of carnivals and festivals, fish ponds and ring tosses. He has watched a lot of his neighbors leave McAlpin's, Mabley & Carew, Henry Harris, Herschede's, Burkhart's, Dino's and Newstedt-Loring-Andrews.
Love swings and whips
A block and a half away is a new neighbor, another novelty store. A brass plaque proclaims Historical Site, Food and Drink, Established 1864. No food and drink sold there today, unless you count edible underwear. The new Hustler Store, a unique boutique, is much tonier than the store's previous location on Sixth Street. Candles and cologne, T-shirts and jackets. Along with, of course, implements (batteries not included). Whips are 25 percent off, and a trapeze, billed as a love swing, is on sale. Manager Mike Chiodi says he really hopes to make a profit with this store.
The much seedier Sixth Street store was really just to make a point, he says.
But I digress. This is about a store leaving a downtown increasingly barren and homogenized. And rather un-Cincinnati. Nobody's fault, Gordon says loyally. The world has changed.
So, how's your store doing, Mike?
Business is real good.
E-mail Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (513) 768-8393.
'Average Joe' robbery suspect has money woes
Veteran cops sat, awaited robber
Driver, 16, may be tried as adult
Moving Wall: Behind each name lies someone's pain
PULFER: Keeping score? One more loss
Golfer dies after lightning strike
OSU boss urges $1B in tech spending
CPS board wants specifics on plans to restructure
New zebra fish go to work
Norwood mayor won't resign
Ohio Supreme Court gets Justin case
Shooter sentenced in murder
Summer truancy 17 percent
Father from deadbeat list arrested at airport
KIESEWETTER: USA cable scuttles 'Schott' story
Opera's 'Melisande' follows her fascination
Dylan dazzles early crowd
GET TO IT
Pig Parade: Juicy Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
KNIPPENBERG: Purloined big pig still has its own gig
Cafeteria at Fairfield speeds up food service
Democrats' Jamboree comes to Campbell Co.
Finalists named for Franklin chief
Franklin fire chief finalists named, set to be interviewed
Genesis museum's look forming inside and out
Getting in St. X only first hurdle
Health agency seeks levy to meet demand
Homeless Ohio man inherits $300,000
Longtime officer to be chief
Only buyout can keep hospital open
Recall process speeding along
Renovation gives center new life
Repaving shoulders could hit $2M
Station improves emergency service, curbs road hazard
Suspect, 25, charged with murder
Suspects sought in fatal robbery
Teen may face trial as adult in shooting that left man dead
Tristate A.M. Report
Waiters ready to race on the Square
Who should be cast away?