Episode 25 – Foreign Contingent

Responding to the doorbell, Pearl and I walk curiously to the front. A family of giants enters the shop…all wide-eyed as they take in the exotic surroundings. Immediately, we notice their Scandinavian accents…I wouldn’t know a Finn from a Dane, but they’re all blond, lean and attractive, a mother, father, teen boy and girl.

“Vee luf your store,” the mother says.

“Welcome, welcome,” Pearl cries. “I’m surprised you’re out so late.”

“Is dis late?” The father asks. We thought everybody’s up all night in New York. De city zat never sleeps, correct?”

“Sort of, ” I reply, “but some areas are safer than others.”

“I haf heard zat, but vee were eager to zee Harlem, and had dinner at sa Red Rooster. It vas exquisite!”

“I love the Red Rooster,” Pearl says. “Welcome to my shop. We’re very flattered to have you. Where are you from?”

“Sveden,” the father says. “You haf a fascinating establishment.”

“We try to be different from the norm. Make yourselves at home…I’m Pearl. This is Hunter. We’re happy to answer any questions you have.”

The family’s immediately at ease…wanders in all directions.

Pearl leans toward me: “Give them space,” she whispers. “There’s nothing worse than sales people lurking…making customers uncomfortable.”

I take her advice…pretend to straighten some shelves.

The mother starts asking Pearl about her training, experience, concept…where the clothes are from. Pearl excitedly shares her vision. How she adores hand-made clothes..not all perfect, but oozing character.

“Excuse me,” I turn to find the the daughter’s green eyes staring right at me. “Can you help us?” She leads me to her brother. “Sven’s interested in your trousers. They’re so cool. Where are they?”

I’m totally lost, but know enough to call Pearl over. “Do we have these in his size?” She looks him over carefully. He’s a long lanky kid, not much older than me, but that’s where the similarity ends. He’s blond, blue eyed, with a freckled, upturned nose. I’d kill to look like him…but his sister’s even cooler…looks sort of like him, but her features are more chiseled…can’t keep from staring. Figure she’s so used to seeing guys like her brother, I must look like a midget.

Pearl steers us to a rack in the corner. Haven’t a clue what to say. Then, it hits me. The pants are similar, but all wonderfully different…lots of collage-like details. The kind of clothing Pearl likes most. So, that’s what I pitch. Point out the differences in stitching and decoration. Tell them that, when they pick a pair, it’s one of a kind…no chance anyone’ll be wearing the same thing.

“How much are they?” Sven asks. He’s got no accent at all.

“They’re a steal for custom clothes,” I tell him. Check the tag and almost pass out, three-hundred-fifty bucks. Holy shit! Sven examines them closely. Finds a couple of pairs he wants to try on. While he’s changing, the girl turns to me…holds out her hand with a smile. “Hello, I’m Gwen.” Like her brother, hardly an accent. “Have you worked here a long time?”

“No, it’s my first day.”

“Really? Then, we have to buy something in your honor.”

I chuckle. “Don’t worry about that. I’m just just glad to be working with Pearl.”

She studies me. “What does your family do?”

I’m about to tell her, then realize, I’ve got to hide my identity. “Uh…my father was a banker, and my mother was a personnel director for a public company.”

“Wow, and you work here?”

“Yeah, I love clothes…and my parents aren’t around.”

“Where are they?”

“Passed away.” Realize I’ve got to keep my story straight. It’s a pain because Gwen’s so smoking hot, I’d like to tell her my family’s well off…impress her…invite her to do something, but it’s not possible if I’m an orphan working in Harlem. Also, I’m supposed to be waiting for Jewel to make up her mind…not that it matters now that I’m on my own. Realize I’m seriously pissed off she couldn’t make up her mind. In the past week, life’s totally fucked me…until now.

Sven comes out looking awesome. The exotic clothes show off his coloring, His whole family’s impressed. “Sven, you must have dis souvenir of Harlem, USA!” His father exclaims.

Bottom line, they end up spending over a thousand dollars, and Pearl’s smiling from ear to ear. Really knows her business…throws in free earrings for Gwen and her mom…it’s a win-win.

Gwen wishes me luck and kisses both cheeks…awesome! They tell Pearl they’ll spread the word to their friends. I’m usually flamboyant, but I’m so happy with my new life…it’s like I don’t need to show off or anything…just be myself.

“Check out our website,” Pearl says, handing out cards. “We ship all over the world.”

All of a sudden, I realize I’m facing a major opportunity. Rush to the counter, grab a card, and write my name on it. Hand it to Gwen with everyone staring…and smiling…thank goodness.

As they leave, Pearl tells me I did a super job. “You’re a natural,” she says, “but you need to know the stock inside and out.” Walks me around explaining everything in detail.

To be continued… Read next episode!