Friday, January 18, 2008

Fur Flyers”, NY City, 1963

This is about my friend Jimmi G. She died last year and our world is a little less bright because of that. Jimmi was one of those one-of-a-kind people who loved life and who grumbled about it constantly. She could swear like a sailor and she often did so. To listen to one of her harangues was akin to being caught in a revolving could see the other side but it was almost impossible to get there ! Needless to say, she was an imposing character.

I met Jimmi just shortly after I met my husband. We were all living in NY City. She was dabbling in antiques and had been able to accrue a small nest egg. However, she was forever looking for new outlets for her creativity and in the early ’60’s she hit on an idea that took off like wildfire.

Jimmi took her accumulated cash and traveled through New England and the East Coast buying up vintage fur hats and coats. Many of them were missing buttons and some had even come apart at the seams. None of this discouraged her. She had an idea and to watch it come to fruition was exciting.

She came back to New York driving her old wooden-sided station wagon packed to the brim with fur items. She was a savvy buyer and had paid little to nothing for her purchases. Most people were happy to get rid of their musty, old outer wear and were thrilled to have made a dollar or two on the exchange.

The next thing on Jimmi’s agenda was a store front and she found the perfect thing on 8th St, near Greenwich Village. It was basically a bare room which she filled with her stock. The walls were painted an off-white and she gave paint and brushes to our three children and said, “Go to it...use your imagination and cover the walls.” The kids were thrilled and the result was magical.

She named her store “Fur Flyers” and opened for business on a windy, Fall day. A good friend of ours was a writer for “The Village Voice” and he gave her a great send-off. Within days it was apparent that Jimmi’s store was the “talk of the town” and it became the “in” thing to be seen in a vintage item from “Fur Flyers”.

As I recall, Jimmi made 2 more trips out of town to gather merchandise, but, by Christmas time most of the inventory had been sold. In little more than 4 months she had made a small fortune and it was time to move on to new adventures.

It is interesting to note that a store of this sort in New York City could never be successful in today’s climate. Anti-fur Societies would be in an uproar. But it is just as interesting to note that Jimmi (who loved animals) would have found this ludicrous. To her mind she was not advocating the killing of animals to make clothing...she was merely practicing the age old art of re-cycling.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

You certainly know the most fascinating people.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Bud said...

Ginnie, you have met some facinating people...a wonderful story and tribute to your friend.

2:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great story and how fortunate you were to have a "Jimmi" cross your path.
Sounds like she was a true visionary and I bet it was great knowing somebody like her.

7:01 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

She must have been fascinating. I thought you were going to say that she turned the fur into other objects, like throws and pillows and teddy bears.....LOL

9:04 PM  
Blogger Melly` said...

Once again .. your stories enthrall me.

I too.. would of loved to have been friends with Jimmi.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Crayons said...

I think your writing is at its best when you create these thumbnail sketches of people whom you have loved. How clever of her to spot a market and tap it.

On the topic of fur, I put it an a historic context. We accept things now that later will seem unthinkable -- but we cannot recognize them yet.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Chancy said...

Facinating story Ginnie and you tell it so well.

I do believe you have a novel in you that is just busting at the seams to get out,

aka chancy

4:45 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Evewry single time I ever went to the Ballet with my Grandmother she would wear her diamonds and her furs too. When she died last year, my pop came over with her fur. I swill probably never wear it but I can safely say that it is part of my nan and prt of me..I will cherish it.

5:50 PM  
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10:43 AM  

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