Business of the Month: Cobblestones, 314 East 9th Street
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Once upon a time, on a tree-lined street in a picturesque neighborhood of New York City, there was a clothing shop that existed outside the usual confines of the calendar. Cross the threshold, and you found yourself in a wonderland of yesteryear’s hats, gloves, fancy shoes, tie tacks, pocket handkerchiefs and brightly pattered dresses. The proprietress greeted you with “Hello, young lady,” and called out as you left, “Bye, dear,” in a native Manhattanite’s voice, carrying a touch of that cultured movie star accent of the 1930s and 40s.
“I like the old world, you know,” says Delanee Koppersmith, who rules the peaceable realm called Cobblestones that she’s created, in real life, at 314 East Ninth Street, between First and Second Avenues. “I think things were nicer then, more respectful, prettier. Clothes were more well-made. They were attractive, and had character.
“If there was a time machine, I would go back.”
For now, Koppersmith spins LPs, sings along, does accounting by hand, and most of all matches up customers with the vintage accoutrements they seek at her compact, well-known and well-loved store. She grew up on East 4th Street, between Avenues C and D, lived briefly in Arizona, then returned and opened Cobblestones at the tender age of 21. Now in its 34th year, the shop is still going strong.
While she won’t reveal exactly how she stocks the store – or where she shops for herself, because they are one and the same – Koppersmith allows that some elderly friends and acquaintances divest themselves of vintage clothing (which she defines as “from before the 1970s”) by consigning.
“It’s a very social thing, a store. My closest friends, I’ve met here.” She holds packages and keys for the neighbors, and knows all the local people and dogs — and shows off photos of her own adored canine, Daisy. She’s excited to attend the wedding this weekend of an employee next door at Eileen Fisher (which was, by the way, the designer’s very first store before it grew into an empire).
The fan who nominated Cobblestones for Business of the Month wrote to us of Koppersmith: “Not only has she sold wonderful vintage clothing at reasonable prices, she has helped many elderly people she has met through the store. It’s unique in that the owner takes a personal interest in the people that walk in and out of her establishment.”
Even the store owner’s first name name is unique: Delanee rhymes with Melanie, and was inspired by her father’s admiration for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR was president from 1933 to 1945, so perhaps Koppersmith was destined to love those decades.
“I certainly like old New York, just in general,” she said. Research into local history that she did at Tompkins Square Library led her to select the name Cobblestones. “I just like the elegance of ’30s and 40s clothes. I love glamour.”
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