Midtown Camera & Electronics
Princess Boutique was the first small business we found to be interesting. Their sign stated “Princess Boutique: Robes, Sleepwear, Lingerie, and Corset.” We stopped at the word “lingerie” and immediately went into the store to interview the storeowner. However, we found completely opposite of what we thought would see in this store.
We are from Queens, New York. So, when we think of lingerie, we think of very revealing and bold outfits. But despite where you are from, majority of the people will probably think of the same things that we pictured from the word lingerie. We found out their definition of that word was completely different from ours.
The store consisted of black dresses and headscarves. Dresses had long sleeves, and the shortest dress was one that came to your knees. Some were lightly embroidered and some contained colors like teal, yellow, and brown in small patches. None of the lingerie looked like lingerie.
Because we were intrigued by the store’s name and what they were selling, we decided to enter the store and inquire both the workers and storeowners. The storeowner was not present. However, there were two young ladies working at the store. They chose to be anonymous. We found out through asking various questions that the store was around for 20-25 years. The door outside showed the wear and tear on the sign and the door. They also told us that there were at least 3 more stores in the community; some of which were older and others that were newer.
As we questioned further, we were able to find out that their definition of lingerie was more so of “casual wear” rather than the conception of lingerie that we have, which is revealing articles of clothing. They also considered the clothes in the store and what women were wearing on the streets to be a “modest” way of dressing. As we progressed with the interview, we explain a little bit of what gentrification was and how Williamsburg is becoming more modernized. When we explained our hypothesis, which is to what extent has modernization changed the Hasidic community, we began to get even more interesting information from our interviewees.
One interesting statement that one of ladies made was “Do you think that if a Forever 21 came into the neighborhood, it would do well? Why sell revealing clothing if people are not going to buy it? This is why none of these main stream clothing stores will ever do well in our community.” After hearing this, we figured that the two women did not want to answer any more questions. As we were leaving the store and tried to take a picture of a dress, they asked us to put our camera away.
Taubers had a very modern looking sign outside of their store rather than the other businesses. Its gold sign outshined the other signs, probably attracting many customers that way.
We were only allowed to spend a couple of minutes in the store before we were kicked out after being rejected for an interview. But we made few observations before leaving the store.
As expected of the store, we saw many modest clothing. Black shirts with long sleeves and black skirts that came up right above your knees at most. Unlike the lingerie store we went to, the store consisted of clothes that were not all black. There were shirts that were striped and white and yellow. But the majority of the store consisted of the reserved clothes people in the Hasidic enclave wore. The front counter displayed many different perfumes. Some of the name brands we saw were Tommy Girl and BVLGARI, which was one of the better selling products due to the small amount in stock left. This shows the clothing stores response to the popular demand of the community.
There was no interview. When we asked the storeowner if she would mind answering a few questions for a school project, she responded with “Yes, I would. Now, please leave.”