Monday, November 9, 2009
Lana Fabrics (909 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, NY, (718) 339 8940, F to King’s Highway; B, Q to King’s Highway) is all the way out in Coney Island, near the last stop for the F, B, or Q train. I took B train out, reading a book and drinking coffee. After a few very hectic weeks, the quiet hour was very welcome. It was a beautiful fall day with a light breeze coming in from the water, smelling ever so slightly like sea salt. I walked on King’s highway for about 4 minutes past stores filled with Russian delicatessen, lots of high heels, and fur collars on anything from sweatshirt hoodies to jean jackets.
Lana’s Fabrics is a medium size shop filled floor to ceiling with fabrics, ribbons, buttons, zippers, and one hallway full of yarn. It feels a bit like a balloon that is blown up so much it might pop at any minute—but instead of helium, it’s bursting with very useful stuff. Narrow aisles lead through the different sections of the store. One entire aisle is full of yarns of various discount brands (Bernat, Ordell, Patens). Although the store does not sell many brands, it has a wide selection of different fibers and colors.
A number of patrons were looking for last minute costume items for Halloween. The store seemed quite busy. I found Lana, who has been running Lana Fabrics for nearly forty years, and her grandson Joe, who has been helping her lately. Both of them were very friendly and helpful. Joe was interested in exploring other yarn companies, which the store might carry in the future. I was intrigued by this grandmother and grandson team. They were very in tune with each other, and Joe was involved in every aspect of his grandmother’s business. Both of them live in the building, which belongs to his grandmother. Lana, Joe told me, is from a tiny village outside Honkong, called Canton. We talked a little about the economy and how most of the small businesses that are surviving do so because they own the buildings they are in and are not dependent on outside leases. After chatting for a while, I asked them both my seven questions.
Me: How long has your store been here?
Lana: 38 years, since 1972.
Joe: My grandmother used to be a seamstress, but then she started selling notions, then notions and yarn. At some point she decided just to do the store.
Me: What do you look for when you are buying yarn?
Joe: We sell Bernat, Ordell and Patents. We have been working with all three companies for years. We have people who ask for angora and more expensive fabrics, but they don't want to pay the prices.
Me: Who is your staff?
Lana: Me and my grandson.
Me: Do you teach classes?
Joe: No, not at this time. We don’t have the space.
Me: Who makes your store samples?
Joe: We don't have store samples.
Me: Do you think the recession has made people knit more or less?
Joe: It's come back. Knitting has become bigger lately.
We chatted a little more. After I took my pictures, I walked back to the subway, stopping only for moments in a number of very tempting stores... If I hadn't been expected elsewhere, I might have swung over to the amusement park and taken a couple of rides on the roller coaster, or taken a stroll on the boardwalk...
(picture from http://blog.ratestogo.com/thrilling-amusement-parks/)
But life being what it is, I did not have the time :-(.