Wow. Wow, I say. Wow. This has been... a year, and it's only March. This is a long one. Grab a cuppa or a glassa and settle in.
It's hard to believe that 10 days ago, I was in Manhattan on a fabric buying trip. Normally when I drive to New York, the trip takes 4 1/2 hours, sometimes longer. Not this time. Without going full Grand Theft Auto speeds, it still took less than 4 hours for me to get from home to the garage in Midtown (as an aside, ParkWhiz is an AWESOME app for saving you on parking). When I arrived on Wednesday, traffic was noticeably lighter than usual, but there were still people on the streets. I parked the car and walked to my hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn on 8th at 49th. Here was another signal that things were not at all normal. The Friday before I went down to NYC, I checked the Hilton site to see what the prices were like. I was able to book a high floor room with 5 days notice for $98. Normally, that room is 2-3 times that. When I arrived at the hotel, at 11:30 AM, my room was ready for me. Another sign things were not normal at all.
I spent the day doing business and buying my fabrics, but the feel of the city was markedly different. Normally, New York has an underlying thrum: subways mingled with hopes, dreams, despair and energy. It's usually exhilarating. This time, the tension was palpable. The throngs that usually fill 7th Avenue in the Garment District were thinned, and people looked more uneasy.
Stores that are normally bustling, weren't. Tourists, especially the hordes of foreign tourists that normally fill Times Square, were missing. Elmos, Mickeys, Minnies, and other characters who people the streets trying to get their pictures taken were walking in groups, character heads under their arms, looking grim, masks covering their faces.
After spending the late afternoon with my dear friend Alice, owner of Mendel Goldberg Fabrics, I walked down 19th Street in Greenwich Village to meet Rosie and Kenneth for dinner. The restaurants on the way were empty, including some really famous ones like Craft Steak. And when I say empty, I mean not one table was seated. It was unnerving.
The next day, state and federal administrators started issuing warnings. I did some business from my hotel room, waiting until my fabrics were ready for pickup. I decided to forego using the hotel gym, and instead took a walk. This is what 6th Avenue looked like at 8:14 AM.
There would usually be throngs of office workers scurrying along the sidewalks, clutching their Starbucks, and the street would be full of cars and taxis. Rockefeller Center, and the area where "Today" broadcasts, were devoid of the usual crowds. People were already starting to social and physical distance. When I went into Maison Kayser to buy a baguette to bring home, the staff were all talking about how their hours were being cut back.
I got my car at 11, and headed to the Garment District to pick up my fabrics and head home. Times Square was even more empty than the day before
I went straight down 39th, turned right on 10th, left on 42nd, and right on the West Side Highway. In 5 minutes. At 11:45 AM. On a Thursday. Remember I said I had set a PR by going door to door in less than 4 hours? I made it home in less than 3 1/2.
The good news is that I did get a good buying trip done before all hell broke loose. My wholesalers are all Hasidim, and while we are good friends, we never shake hands, which is advantageous in this time.
New Fabrics, and 20% Off Orders Over $50!
The other good news, and I believe in leaving you on a happy note, is that I got GORGEOUS fabrics for you, and they are up on the site even as I write this blog post. There are silks, cottons, knits, wools and so much more. So check them out! And BTW, there's a coupon for you as well. If your order is over $50, use the coupon JustKeepSewing and we'll take 20% off! It's a good time to stay home, stay calm, and sew. And hopefully this will help a little bit!
No matter what, please, please, take good care of yourself. Tomorrow I'll post about my new pants, and I'll also give you some hints on IG and here on some things you can do to keep yourself occupied during these trying times.
Love to you all