Up the Eynon...
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Raise your hand if you miss Sugerman's.....
(and yes, you don’t even realize that you’ve been spelling it wrong this entire time, did you?)
You could shop there.....and leave with, in no particular order....
a grandfather clock
Hotel California on 8-track
a washer and dryer
a new set of keys
a bag of movie popcorn
a ouija board
a baseball glove
a pair of Chuck Taylor's
a new TV
a lawn mower
bags of dirt
a christmas tree
a charcoal grill
a freezer that INCLUDED FOOD IN IT
a bowling ball
....and I could go on and on and probably should but I won't because the more I think on this the more sad I get. And the more pissed off I get at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club and all the other wretched places that tried to steal the Eynon's sizzle and failed, due to their crippling lack of character and their sad attempts at regimentation that took the fun out of everything. You've seen one Wal-Mart and you've seen them all. But Sugerman's? HA. The place was laid out like somebody found boxes of stuff in the attic and dumped them on the floor. You never knew what you were going to find, or where it might be. (A friend of my wife called the place "Russia".....) It was lit like the ward from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". The pet department's smell wafted to and fro. I can't remember if there was piped-in music or not but if so it was constantly getting interrupted by the PA system announcements....a never-ending litany of lost children or found wallets or extra hands needed to drag a washer and dryer set out to a double-parked station wagon.
Sugerman's was also the crazy people who worked there.....who would haggle with you and nip from flasks when they didn't think anybody was looking and could give you the kind of pin-point directions ("turn left at the third snowblower, then a right at the 10 speed bike rack.....then look down and to your right and you’ll find the bic pens…") that even now seem super-human, like everybody there had a bit of John Nash from "A Beautiful Mind" in ‘em. Ok, maybe that's a stretch, but I don't recall anybody working there who fit the definition of "normal", and as a result the clientele had to up our game to keep up. The guy in the record section was ALWAYS there. The guy in appliances was ALWAYS there. I swear they slept in back rooms. It wasn't a series of bored, part-time teens. These were guys making an honest living, and they actually gave a shit. After a while they'd know you by name.
Don’t get me wrong. They could still amp up the hard sell on your ass, and rain so much gibberish down on you that you’d buy something just to get the hell out of there, but they were never mean-spirited about it. They were your neighbors, after all.
The place was a large laboratory of NEPA, and much like that NYC song said......if you could make it there, you could make it anywhere. Well....anywhere in our valley at least. If somebody was wandering the aisles looking like they had just gotten hit in the head with a board, chances are they were from Luzerne County.
As a little kid it was the only shopping I ever looked forward to. To the end my Mom called it "the Eynon drug", never "Sugerman's". If you did this, you were special. NEPA 4 LIFE. Gangsta.
My Mom would let me roam the place at will. "Weird" didn't mean "dangerous" in those days. The agreement was that if I couldn’t find her she'd meet me at the entrance, where I could pass the time playing with the puppies (she would have grounded me if I reported myself lost and she heard her name over the PA). It's where I bought my first record (the Beatles I think), and it's where I bought my first guitar (the action was so high that playing it for 5 minutes could give you carpal tunnel) and it's where I first bought a hamster that had to be flushed down the toilet. The place even taught you about death.
It closed because we're not allowed to have nice things anymore. And the business model, which was guys saying "I'll give you my old refrigerator plus $50 if you load that new one in my Rambler" wasn't cutting it anymore in a world of big box stores and stock prices and pallets of Cheese Balls. They tried an indoor flea market on the location for a while, but that was dark and dingy and pandemically sketchy. It was 100 independent contractors getting in each other’s way. There was no community charm left.
All that's left now is the sign, busted underground pipes that chased out Kost Tire and a discount grocery store, and endless rumors that this or that big chain is gonna move in, which I hope never happens because the Walton family and their evil spawn have done enough damage. I hope nobody EVER goes “up the Eynon” to shop at a fucking Costco. You’d be spitting in the face of me Ma.
LONG LIVE HARRY!
In a bit…