Looking ‘Down Orchard Street’ for the Remaining Bargain District Vendors [VIDEO]

Posted on: March 4th, 2015 at 9:20 am by and

This image has been archived or removed.

Batchilly Fashions on Orchard St., April 2009

This one tugs at the heart strings, especially since those old-school “callers” are damn near gone. You know, those relentless men hawking their wares (mostly leather) on Orchard Street.

Local filmmakers Courtney Fathom Sell and Louis Ressy have been chronicling the discount leather businesses’ fight for survival these last few years. The duo made a “portrait piece” in 2012 called Down Orchard Street that chronicles this dying breed in the face of gentrification. “To me, it seemed that this block could very well be the last standing district of street ‘callers’ begging for your business,” Sell tells us in an email. But his film was not intended to be commentary on the change, rather a document of the era.

We’ve profiled Down Orchard Street in the past, but here’s your chance to see the whole megillah. It’s an updated version clocking in at 12 minutes.

When I was introduced to Lou (the Co-Director), we instantly hit it off, sharing the same sense of humor, loving to drink ourselves into stupidity on most nights and sharing stories about our lives – both of which included the normal amount of struggles, boredom and an occasional highlight. If we were lucky. While Lou struggled to make a sale, I struggled in my “career” as an underground filmmaker. Both us on were on the skids and saw eye to eye. Our similarities, and hard luck quickly made us best friends. Co-conspiritors at the bar.

It wasn’t long until Lou began sharing stories about pranks he and his Co-Workers played on their neighbors. Tales of rivalries between owners, bloody fist fights, crazy customers, and venomous hatred for their competition. They all understood that they were at the tale end of their “calling” careers, as one by one, their neighboring store-fronts were shut down, prominently displaying Misrahi Realty signs in the vacant windows. The sense of eviction was looming, always, in the not so distant future…

When I went back last week to finally get some last shots (which appear in the last sequence), it was actually hard not to cry thinking about those moments spent in front of a now vacant, graffiti covered “Daniel’s Leather”

The beginning is Sell’s capture of Steven Soderberg’s The Knick being filmed as we previously covered.  Fooled us, too. Good luck to Courtney and to all the callers that remain!

Recent Stories

These 3 Developments Threaten to Sever Chinatown Traffic Arteries in the Coming Years [Op-Ed]

As if the climate wasn’t dire enough for Chinatown businesses and residents amidst the pandemic, a proverbial perfect storm is brewing. Long-suffering Chinatown businesses, like much of the city, are encouraged by the loosening of indoor dining restrictions and remain hopeful for a return to some level of normalcy. However, it could be short-lived due […]

Community Lawsuit Halts City’s Chinatown Jail Plans

The Borough-based jail plan hit another major snag this week, with a grassroots lawsuit blocking the proposed Chinatown prison. Neighbors United Below Canal, a community organization, announced yesterday that its lawsuit won an injunction against development of the thirty-story high-rise at 125 White Street. Judge John Kelley ruled in favor of the community, noting that […]

Chinatown Fair Arcade in Danger of Eviction

During pandemic times, sharing buttons on game cabinets and sweating over dance games poses a difficult challenge for the remaining brick-and-mortar arcades. Especially the Chinatown Fair Arcade down on Mott Street. No stranger to survival – the 77-year-old arcade had shut for over a year before its revival in 2012 – Chinatown Fair now faces […]

Subway Tribute to Late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Baden Ginsburg

Less than 24 hours after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, the street memorials started popping up around the city. Indeed, the artist largely known for manipulating city-issued signage (e.g. Aretha Franklin) struck again Saturday afternoon with a tribute to the late justice. This time, at the 50th Street subway station on the Eighth […]

Get a Piece of Mission Chinese Food Before it Closes

Mission Chinese Food is permanently closing its flagship restaurant on the Lower East Side, as previously reported. It lasted nearly six years on East Broadway before coronavirus imposed the business, like so many others. And now Mission is selling off some of its furnishings and ephemera with a stoop sale today. Items include restaurant equipment and […]