Joseph, a slender 19-year-old from Fort Greene, stood inside Downtown Pawn Shop Sunday afternoon turning an almost-new Nokia flip phone over in his hands. On either side of him were glass display cases, chipped and fluorescent.
Those before him held more new and used phones, neatly arrayed. Beside that were purses in an array of colors and material. Across the way was perfume—Lilac for Women, Yacht Man Chocolate—and more jewelry than the Zales across the street, in maybe one-fifth the space. Bomber jackets hung on the wall, besides po sters of President Obama, still smiling, celebrating his inauguration. Bills from every Caribbean nation were taped up next to that. In the back was a tattoo parlor and an optometrist. “Designer Frames Start at $59.99.”
Like generations of Brooklynites before him, Joseph had come to the Fulton Mall to do some shopping. Some historians credit the centuries old strip with pioneering urban department store shopping, with the opening of Abraham & Weschler in 1865 and the many stores that followed, all now long gone but for the Neo-Grec and Beaux Arts temples to retail they erected.
When he arrived on the mall this day, Joseph had passed by the T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and MetroPCS outlets and come here for his new-enough phone. “They don’t want so much here,” Joseph said, a Dodgers cap—L.A., not Brooklyn—resting on his head. “It’s a good deal.”
But for how much longer? It is getting to be that they want more and more on the Fulton Mall. Just like the rest of Brooklyn before it. Read More