Friday, December 10, 2010

Now I know how Howard Carter felt.

This story actually begins around Halloween-I took a day trip on my day off, sans child, looking for a beauty supply store I'd found only the name for online. It was on a road I'd traveled down several times but it was such a nondescript place I'd never noticed it before. When I got there I was blown away by what I saw-rows upon rows of mostly hair care and salon stuff. Hair color, perms, shampoos, conditioners, rollers, appliances-you name it, it was there. Shelves overflowing onto the floor to where you only had a path to get through. My OCD-addled brain nearly exploded. I wanted to straighten it all up! But there was polish to be had and I was on a mission.

I asked the gentleman if he had any nail polish and he showed me the aisle it was on, along with a hodgepodge of other products like lotions and treatments. To make a long story short, I spent 2 hours going through boxes and displays. I came out $76 poorer but tickled pink with my loot. Even better, the gentleman (who turned out to be the owner) and I struck up a conversation about nail polish. He told me what was in his store was only a fraction of what was in the warehouse. This was me:

 The owner gave me his e-mail address and told me if I was interested at taking a look around the warehouse sometime to let him know. So when I got home I emailed him and told him I was anxious to see what he had. Over a month went by, then he called. Which brings us to today's adventure.

I set out this morning dressed for a dig so to speak-old jeans, tennis shoes and a fleece jacket because I assumed the warehouse wasn't going to be temperature controlled. I also had a flashlight and a box cutter along with a notepad and my cell phone. I wish I'd brought my good camera because with this story seeing is believing. I only have one cell pic to share but it gives you an idea. Mr. B and I puttered around the store first today-I found a couple of OPIs and some old formula CND polishes and set them aside to buy. Then he said to his assistant "Isn't there some old OPI in the truck outside?" and his assistant said he thought there was so we unlocked the truck. In a box was several smaller boxes of OPI circa 1996. I let out an audible "squeeeeee!" and went all grabby hands. More than one box of Jasper Jade! 6 polishes in a box. I got lightheaded and took them as well as some of it's siblings inside. Yes, I bought one-I told Mr. B he needed to keep them inside for safe keeping.

So we set out for the warehouse, with Mr. B's trusty terrier Rusty in tow.  The warehouse is about 5 minutes from the store; it's actually a converted textile mill built over 100 years ago. As we drove towards it there were still small mill houses lining the street. Textile mills in The South were their own self-sustainable communities back in the day. Workers lived close, schools just for their children were opened, small hospitals were on-site, even recreational parks were built all for the workers and their families. Pretty cool. WalMart certainly wouldn't do that for it's slaves, err, associates, would they?

Mr. B's warehouse is the size of several football fields and is 4 stories tall. I'm pretty sure a good part of it houses his beauty supply empire though it appears he rents out space to other companies. We parked and transferred ourselves over to a golf cart, then headed up a loading ramp into the dark and chilly mill. Every floor is padlocked-how he knows which key is which was a mystery to me. I think Mr. B has a photographic memory because he can locate something amidst what the average person would consider absolute chaos.

The first floor is a series of locked areas but the 2nd and 3rd floors are all open space. The party girl in me said "This would make a great place for a rave!" then the Yuppie in me said "I would turn this place into lofts and sell them to my fellow Yuppies and make a killing!" I also thought "This place has GOT to be haunted" and I'm sure it is, seeing as it's over a century old and mills weren't the safest places to work. So with that last thought in my head, Mr. B deposits me on the third floor and tells me to poke around while he goes to get something. Right about then my imagination starts working overtime and I'm thinking I'm going to be the subject of an Eli Roth movie. But armed with my trusty flashlight and boxcutter, I soldier on.

Here is the third floor. No ghosts or chainsaw-wielding maniacs but there is a kitchen sink! This is one of four rows, and I'm thinking it's about 2 football fields long total-I took this towards the end of the row. Where it's dark there's more stuff but I didn't go back there-too chicken. I'm assuming the 4th floor looks the same from what Mr. B said. By the way, the floors are all WOOD and brick. You can see the red bricks pretty well in the pic; what looks like white paint between them is actually gorgeous wood; I'm guessing either pine or pecan as that's what grew in the area back then. The wood alone is worth a fortune. But I digress, onto the polish!

The third floor held only a few interesting finds but holy carp, the first floor blew my mind! I've never seen so much polish in all the days of my life. Thousands of small boxes inside bigger boxes, each containing 6 bottles of nail polish. Is it in any order? No. Is there an inventory database somewhere? No. Are the boxes even labeled? No. They are scattered around amidst other products-only Mr. B knows where to look. Just when I thought we were done in one area he'd say "OK, let's go around the corner here..." and BAM! Same scenario-a sea of boxes on shipping palettes. OPI, Essie, China Glaze...core colors, old discontinued colors...most have never seen the light of day. They just sit there needing good homes. It's like the polish shelter-all we need is a sad Sarah McLachlan song playing in the background, huh?

So what's exactly in there? There's no way to really know unless I quit my job and catalog it all to get it ready for Mr. B to sell it. I'm tempted, believe me but the reality is can't. All I can do is go visit and retrieve stuff once a month.

No comments:

Post a Comment