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|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
"No lookers. Ve vant
buyers! You vant to
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
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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