Au revoir, Spags-Building 19 in Shrewsbury!










Me in my Building 19 dress – cost me 6 bucks, it did!

By Rosalie Tirella

Yup. Cheap cheap cheap is gone cuz, well, cuz the people of Wusta and Shoesbury are/were too CHEAP to support even a Building 19! As one Spags-Building 19 clerk told me a few days ago, when they closed their doors for good: The locals wanted the old Spags prices at the Building 19 site. We just weren’t cheap enough! she said incredulously.

She added, looking exasperated: Since the store announced their closing (a few months ago) and items were discounted 10% – well, now, the place is hopping!

Yup! A few pennies or dollars make a HUGE difference to the savvy/cheapskate Woo buyer!

I, on the other hand, am frugal. Meaning I am working class and live within my means. I always shopped at B 19 – on Grafton Street and the Shrewsbury site because if you spent an hour or two just ever so closely looking at everything in the big warehouse spaces you could find really really good stuff, great brands, well made clothing and gear, CHEAP. Just like their advertisements said! I always got solid winter boots there – for a fraction of a dept. store price – and cotton sheet sets, cool draperies, basic and sometimes sexy underwear, mattresses, box springs, living room chairs, shoes, sandals, etc.  Two days ago (the Shrewsbury site’s last day open), I picked up some great pleather jackets for, like, $2 each. Not to mention 10 or 11 cute cotton tops for 17 cents and 22 cents each. They were closing up for good – stuff was 90% off. Though I heard one customer bitch: If it’s their last day, then everything should be 99% off! I looked at her and frowned. A few weeks ago, when the price of merchandise was cut 70%  I got a bunch of great dresses – for like $3 each. Cute and fun!

Still, the closing of the Shrewsbury B 19 store, like the old Grafton Street store, hurt me. Not cuz of the future missed bargains but cuz of the B 19 workers  – many of them middle-aged ladies working for slightly above minimum wage, dealing with cheapo Woo folks, organizing piles of stuff for hours and hours, haggling over pennies. Now, most of them are jobless. B 19 didn’t tell them of their closing until the last minute. They were, at the time I spoke to some clerks, offered no jobs at other B 19 stores. On Grafton Street, when that B 19 store closed a little more than a year ago, all the clerks looked dumbstruck when I visited. They were shell shocked, hurt … and all the poorer cuz of the closing. They got no vacation pay, no severance pay, job training, nothing. Out they all went. I remember my fave clerk – an older black lady. She had worked at B 19 for more than 15 years. She looked so sad, standing behind her customer service desk cash register. Some of her cohorts had gotten transferred to the B 19 in Shrewsbury.  She didn’t. I told her I was going to miss her and teared up. She looked heart broken!

Workers in the fast food industry and big box stores across Mass and America UNITE! Unionize! Agitate for an increase in the minimum wage! And tell your kids and grandkids to stay in school and get trained for a career that will catapult them into the middle class. I was raised by a single mom who worked 60 hours a week for minimum wage. It was hard!!! My mom was an outstanding, lovely clerk at a dry cleaners for more than 25 years. She never got a raise – even though she was a fantastic worker, never missed work, never took sick days and got 1 lousy week of vacation a year. When the new guy, years later, bought the dry cleaners, he was amazed that the previous owners had never given my mother a raise. He immediately hiked my mom’s salary.

Bosses exploit workers. They don’t care what their home life is or if their kids are hungry or wearing not so nice clothes. They will get what they can get.

Brutal minimum wage/low wage world!

Good buy, B 19 workers! You were the best! My heart goes with you!

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