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

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

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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!

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