Quite an existential feat this furniture store has managed to pull off! It is closed, as evidenced by the security gate across its entrance. It is open, as evidenced by the lit-up sign in the window. And it is timeless, as evidenced by the name above the storefront.

Actually, I shouldn’t joke about this little shop. The street in front is all torn up and undergoing a massive repaving project. I assume the store’s sales have dropped dramatically in the project’s wake.

It’s so hard for small businesses to hang on when a city does some thing like this. In my own inner-ring suburb of Milwaukee, a beloved, decades-old, family-run dime store closed when a similar but larger project commenced without the business’s owners even being informed that it was coming. Of course, part of me suspects that my city-suburb did this deliberately. Our local government officials are greatly enamored of bike lanes, pocket parks, rental bikes and scooters, restaurants with plenty of cafe-style seating on the sidewalks, and other rather “hipster” redevelopment along with the myriad new apartment buildings required to house an influx of people to patronize such amenities. That creaky old dime store with its tiny “departments” (board games, party decorations, cards, housewares, fabric and notions, hamsters and goldfish, and seasonal needs like hibachi grills and Christmas tree tinsel) did not jibe well with the desired demographic to be pursued for our city council’s vision of the future (my opinion😀).

In any case, the title of today’s post was inspired by a comment my daughter made when I showed her my photo after work on the day I snapped it. (I frequently take pictures of stuff and share with my family at night. Like hey, do you wanna see a picture I took today of X? My family is very kind and humors me by saying, “Yes.” ❤️) My daughter laughed and said it reminded her of the movie Clerks, the (very!) low-budget 1993 indie film that proved so successful it was followed by two sequels. In that film, when the Quick Stop convenience store clerk arrives at work one morning to discover that the security screen is jammed shut, he hangs a large sign that reads “I ASSURE YOU; WE’RE OPEN!” to counteract any false impression that the store is closed.

What do you think in the case of Milwaukee’s Timeless Furniture store? Open? Closed?

Or maybe something else?

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
This entry was posted in Life, Milwaukee, Movies and film, Photography, Popular culture and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to I ASSURE YOU; WE’RE OPEN!

  1. babsje says:

    Oh I miss the old time dime stores of my childhood. Your post brought back many fond memories of GC Murphy 5 & 10. Thanks for this post and I concur about hipsterism. Boo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, GC Murphy! Loved that store! Was (is?) that a regional chain? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in Wisconsin since moving here, or even in Chicago.

      Liked by 1 person

      • babsje says:

        I only knew of the one in Pittsburgh, but we’re talking decades ago so maybe they expanded regionally? What a unique place, I can still see the bins of small treasures that were so seductive to kids. Gems. Rocks. Feathers. And more!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. mworfolk says:

    The paradox of the timeless store is making my head spin! Open? Closed? I can’t make up my mind.

    I felt sad when I read your description of the beloved dime store that closed. It made me feel nostalgic for one of our local institutions that closed a month before the COVID pandemic was declared.

    Northern Hardware, which everyone called The Northern, was a family owned kind of everything store that stayed open for 100 years. You could get a startlingly diverse number of things there: cleaning supplies, gardening supplies, furniture, appliances, pet supplies, hardware, building supplies, housewares…you could bring your dog in there and they’d have treats behind the counter. There were employees who had worked there for 40 years. https://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/local-news/after-100-years-northern-hardware-to-close-its-doors-3738563

    My partner and I still say to each other when we need something, “I wish The Northern were open—for sure they would have had this.” I am not a fan of the big box stores that pushed it out and took its place.

    (Oh, and thumbs up for the Clerks reference, by the way…I still remember seeing that in the theatres when it came out and laughing my head off. It was probably one of the first real independent movies I’d ever seen.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your Northern Hardware sounds like the salt of the earth kind of store that every town used to have. We just also lost a family run pet store and garden/lawn supply (all one store!) in the past year. The owners retired and decided to close instead of finding a buyer. Very sad. Or at least, I feel quite nostalgic. My daughters used to love stopping in there and visiting the guinea pigs and birds while I shopped for other supplies. Oh Melinda, what have we (collectively) lost??? Now that these stores are gone, they’re gone for good, I’m afraid. Shopping online is convenient, but I loved the weirdness of stepping into another era while still inhabiting the present day.


      • mworfolk says:

        Katherine, what a perfect way to put it: “stepping into another era while still inhabiting the present day.” I really miss these stores. I feel like even though online shopping is convenient, it’s not always ideal, and we really do miss out on those small interactions we used to have, or even the comfort of familiarity—seeing the same clerks every time you come to the store. I have read that loneliness is an epidemic in many countries, and I think by eliminating even these incidental interactions we are making people even more lonely.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Very nice point about the loneliness. I recently saw that reported on as well. Well, small steps: I’m going to seek out businesses like these (restaurants and coffee shops, too) and make a deliberate effort to engage with them regularly. It’s not much, but it’s something I can do. Every drop in the bucket adds up, right?


  3. Wyrd Smythe says:

    The title of your post immediately caught my eye and invoked memories. And wow! Until I read your post, I didn’t realize there was a Clerks III, so thank you for that bit of info! I see all the “Jay and Silent Bob” movies as sequels to Clerks and wondered which two you meant as sequels. Checked Kevin Smith’s filmography and discovered (not one but) two new movies I didn’t realize he’d done (although Killroy Was Here sort of rings a bell).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MELewis says:

    I think it’s actually a time machine. Step through those gates to the furniture of your favorite era!

    Liked by 1 person

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