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BROWSING THROUGH BIRKE'S
 
and an old piece of cardboard, Nathan ordered her to write "NO BROWSING" in big block letters.  When she finished, to her surprise, he instantly tacked the directive to a post in the front of the store.

     And woe be it to anyone who ignored that sign.  "Vhat do you vant?"  Nathan would interrogate the casual shopper.

     "Oh, I'm just looking," was the usual unwary 
reply.

     "No lookers. Ve vant buyers!  You vant to 
browse, go to a library!  At least dare you vill loin 
someting!"  Nathan would declare, just before 
throwing the hapless shopper out.

     Nathan threw about ten thousand potential customers out of the store over the years, for such offenses as browsing or conversely, being too picky.  Coming in to buy a blue suit, one man was told, "You vant a blue zoot?  Vy you no join da Navy dhen you get a blue zoot free!"

     Nathan held court at a small metal TV tray in the center of the store.  Seated there, he shocked listeners with brutal tales of the Holocaust.  He made his scorn of politics and religion known through endless monologues punctuated with obscenities.  And all the while, he kept an eye peeled for those hated browsers.  Birke's was not for the meek.

Harsh words, compassionate souls

However, Nathan and Sally saw to it that those in need were taken care of.  Scores of customers today recall Sally's gestures of generosity; despite his disposition, customers also recount stories of Nathan's charity.  As referenced in the exhibit video, he donated tons of clothing and often reduced prices for those in need.

If Nathan's self-assigned job was to harry and haggle, Sally's was to feed and to comfort.  To this 
day, she greets customers with a kind word and 
trays of homemade goodies, coffee and tea.  She 
has an uncanny ability to remember details from 
conversations with shoppers.  Tell her about your 
sister in New York; return six months later and 
she'll greet you warmly and ask, "How's your 
sister, the one in New York?"  In a way, her 
customers became her extended family and her
community. 

Secrets of Success

Therein lies the truth of Birke's, the reason why it succeeded against all odds.  One way or another, 

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