Lately, an influx of Europeans with bulging pockets has kept things lively, but the bad economic outlook has also served to bring more New Yorkers through the doors: consigners looking to raise some quick cash; customers craving labels for less. (Frequently, these are the same people, on a compulsive buying-and-regretting merry-go-round that I myself have been riding for years.) But even the upbeat Ina—who, unlike me, is staying far away from Fox Business News and other cable-TV scaremongers, and who, in fact, is doing a fair amount of business during my visit—says soberly: ""I think it's gonna get a lot worse before it gets better."
6. I go home and rummage around in my closets, where I identify hundreds—maybe thousands—of items that are rarely, if ever, worn and could be turned into cash. Feeling as buoyed as Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs by the prospect of a sudden influx of dollars, I walk down to 8th Street. In front of Gray's Papaya, I run into a friend, a jewelry dealer who sells exquisite gems on 47th Street in the diamond district.
How's business? I say, smirking facetiously. "Everybody's melting," he replies, by which I know he means that people are converting their gold into cash. But then again, for just one second, I think that maybe he's referring to our whole way of life, all our getting and spending, disappearing as fast as the Wicked Witch of the West dissolved when Dorothy doused her with a bucket of water.