28 July 2007

Big Gum on Smith Street



The most mysterious storefront on Smith Street is the M. Poggi Wholesale Confectionery at No. 293. You know the shop; the one with gigantic facsimiles of packs of gum in the window. The address sits silent and stoic among the hubbub of Brooklyn "Restaurant Row." It would seem to a going concern, but I'm never seen anybody enter or exit (certainly nobody has ever dusted those king-size candies), and the door is so pasted over with stickers and decals (included one indicating membership in the NRA) that it's impossible to ascertain whether business is being transacted within.

I've never had the courage to knock on the door because something about the store seems to whisper to me "social club." You can't be to careful in Carroll Gardens. And, after all, the outfit is run by someone with a vowel at the end of his last name.



Anyway, I love this store, whatever it is. Reasons? Let me count them. First or all, there are the titantic gum props. Freedent, Orbit, Doublemint. It's like a forgotten Warhol installation.



Then there's the classic gold stenciling in the window, unchanged, I'm sure, since the store opened.



Poggi also handles tobacco, explaining some faded posters in the corner for Benson & Hedges, featuring a man with very '70s hair, a bent cigarette and the slogan "That's the breaks."



New York City has been working with wholly numerical phone numbers for some years now, but, spelled out on a Salem sign, Poggi still goes by TR5-5581. Finally, there's the requisite "Will return at" clock in the window.

8 comments:

Jeremiah Moss said...

very nice! i love this one, looks like a ghost from the past.

Anonymous said...

I HAVE seen this place open! But I did not have the nerve to ask questions. The other super mysterious store in the neighborhood is the "Pharmacy" at Henry and Sackett, which has not been open for years. There are stacks of unopened mail and lots of dusty vitamins inside. Someone with chutzpah please solve the Poggi mystery!

who walk in brooklyn said...

props for discretion (mostly); quiet love for M. Poggi is the best kind, & the kind that lasts.

sidenote: it was mere gesture towards Smith St's far more polyglot past that it was left up in the first place but motherfucking Flight 101 took down the Valencia Bakery sign sometime in the last week or two.

what did they put up instead? see for yourself.

wwib

Anonymous said...

Regarding the pharmacy at Henry & Sackett (the vermont pharmacy), I've heard the owner got in trouble for selling counterfeit or expired pharmaceuticals and had to close down. He owned the building and ended up defaulting on his taxes, so the city owns the place now, but the guy still lives in the top floor, illegally. Anyway, all this probably means that NOTHING will be happening there anytime soon -- and it's been this way for at least 6 years now.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous. I've always wondered about that place myself, but you don't want to think too much about it. Then it will just go away like everything else good.

Anyone know what the "TR" stood for in the phone number? The only neighborhood exhange I know is "NEvins"? TRafalgar, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

So according to some NYC papers, M Poggi and Co is:

NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
LICENSED CIGARETTE WHOLESALE DEALERS, STAMPING AGENTS
& VENDING MACHINE OPERATORS
Effective February 1, 2007


Make of that what you will!

Carroll Gardens Kid said...

The Poggi establishment has been there for more years then I can remember. Once in awhile you'll have seen them load their goods into a van and make deliveries to all the neighborhood candy and news paper stores/stands. One of the workers use to be from Pete Sergio's shop that was on 1st Place and Court, if you grew up here, you'll know him when you see him. It always was a low profile location.

JackSzwergold said...

carroll gardens kid got it right. I've seen it open and have seen wholesale boxes of candy and cigarettes going in an out of the place. The owner is probably the last of the local distributors. There used to be a similar place on 4th Avenue near Union Street as well.

As for "family" connections, no solid info. But my understanding of the old school candy and vending routes is the "family" did get a take of everything at one point.