Main Street

Written By: Courtney Piliero

The first day I met Suzanne and the rest of the girls I never thought that they would adhere so seamlessly to me that many of my better character traits would be built upon my years working around them. I suppose in life no one ever realizes when they have first met those who will be their greatest influences for if they did, what room would be left for growth, for betterment of self, for experience. I was a kid then, or so my age would have indicated but I never felt that young; maybe because they never treated me any differently than they did each other. They all possessed the fanciness Main Street embodies during the summer but were brushed also with the ease of those who know the passing of winters on the strip. Even now I find it odd how a place so swiftly can be loved and then just as promptly forgotten; but then this is my home and always has been. Suzanne herself was puzzling to me. She carried herself much like a vibrant Luna moth knowing all the while there was little time to fly. It amazed me to be around an individual so sure of herself. Often people feign such confidence but rarely do they possess it so vehemently that it is contagious to those around them. I was a fast learner and I worked hard always dreading the day they would realize my inabilities and insecurities. My plan was to act like I knew it all in hopes that what I did not know I would figure out myself in time. I wanted to learn the business, wanted to learn how to buy and what went into pricing and displaying. I was eager to sell, desperate to soak up every minute detail of retail in the Hamptons, which would someday help me own and operate my own shop successfully. What I failed to recognize back then was that what I truly desired was much more than this knowledge. Over the sixteen years I worked in the shop I never tired of it. Suzanne’s innate ability to purchase merchandise her customer base would like was uncanny. At times the other women and I would be unpacking the newest shipment and look to one another in bafflement, why? Why would she purchase such ornate patterns in such magnitude? Why would she assume those living in the Hamptons would desire such bold colors? Each time we quietly questioned her buying choices with one another we were left standing, mouths agape as the items disappeared off the shelves. It was as if word got out that Suzanne herself had requested such designs specifically for each customer and in doing so caused flocks of individuals to eagerly attain these beauteous creations designed just for them before they no longer could. In time the answers seemed to reveal themselves to me on their own. It was not only that Suzanne knew what the people wanted it was that the people wanted what Suzanne saw as fantastic. The truth is a lot of the time people, generally speaking of course, are incapable of making their own choices. When you think about this notion it can be puzzling but I have found it is true even on as small a scale as cocktail napkins. To sell well you must be confident that the product you have to offer is the best there is. You have to be able to read the customer when they ask which piece you would prefer. They themselves may have no idea what it is they want but they also do not want the seller to act privy to this. With each summer I returned to the shop more anxious than the year before. There is something so electrifying about working on the strip. A buzz of energy seems to zip up and down the sidewalks. It jumps into the open doors of every little store the way skipping stones dance upon the water when released with just the exact amount of force and gentleness. Maybe you only feel it if you’ve watched it for years but I know for me it was an incredibly overwhelming sense of life embodied in the souls of each shop. As with everything there comes at some point an end. My days of working for Suzanne are rapidly approaching their closure and with that for many come sorrow. The shop was more than just a building full of pretty things people ran their fingers over and oooohhh’d and ahhh’d at. It was more than the peaceful glow of the chandeliers illuminating through the front window as the darkness of night fell upon us each evening. The shop became a place of comfort. A grounding I had never had in anything else. These women had taught me so much more than I had hoped to learn. I walked in seeking to build the tools I needed to sell and I will walk away with life knowledge so priceless it seems I have been the one to prosper most; but then this is my home and always has been.