Underwire: February 2021

Running a successful business is a trait that runs counter to the Goldstein Family tradition. In fact, growing up, my relatives gleefully one-upped each other with stories about failed ideas, missed opportunities, and cursed concoctions that poked a finger into the eye of the rheumy cliche of “Jews are good with money.” Well, we showed them!

My favorite was my grandfather’s attempt at the haberdashery trade. With a loan from his boss, Mr. Dutch Schultz (yes, that one), he and a friend set out to produce the finest Fedora that any man could ever want to own. Stylish was only the start! The real secret sauce was that it would be made of materials that never wore out. They called it the ‘Indestructible Felt Fedora.’ Who wouldn’t pay a premium for a hat that never had to be replaced? They produced eight prototypes before the enterprise came apart. Here my memory of the details gets blurry. Something about financing falling through when the prospective backer realized there would be no repeat customers. I do remember the punchline, though: “…and those eight Felt Fedoras are still being worn to this day!”

Dan and Bernie Goldstein, post-war Florida Vacation Style

I had a dream the other night. I walked into an enchanting glass-walled boutique, hidden off a main road, which contained the most exquisite objects displayed in museum quality fashion: stemware, old typewriters, hand-blown glass bowls, metal furniture that resembled sculpture, and behind an elegant tiled counter, two impeccably dressed young men. They glanced up at me and it was then I realized that I owned this business. It was beautiful, perfect, and empty. Did they know that I was the owner? No. Did anyone ever come into this store? No. Had anything ever been purchased? Again, no. My husband must have done this, when I wasn’t looking. I started to panic about the rent and the salaries of the beautiful men, and then the dream dissolved into scheming: I could have a fire-sale and then convert it to a massage studio. But there’s a pandemic on, so no.  A bakery could work, but so many permit hoops to jump through, especially if this is Burbank, and now I’m awake.

Here in my non-dream/ not-anecdote, the pandemic is raging, I’m running the California stores from Georgia, contradictory guidance issues from the authorities, vaccine supplies evaporate, customers defy our safety protocols, fitters quit, mobs of Q followers shut down vaccination centers, we close, we reopen, we close again, we create remote fitting, we create an online store, government assistance is delayed for months by politics, then delayed again by safeguards against fraud that seem to only impede the innocent. Someday this will be a Goldstein Family story, punchline not yet written. 

 Aaron Noble:  Landscape #5, 2020; gouache and ink on paper