You don't need a million to look like a million ...
.... Oh thank you!
If you get the reference, then you also remember the Ritz Thrift Shop, or more precisely, the long-running commercial for this merchant of gently used fur coats. The original shop at West 57th Street, which opened in 1934, was shuttered in 2005 and knocked down to make way for a large condo building. Doing research for this post recently, we were surprised to discover that the shop has re-emerged on Seventh Avenue and West 29th Street. It was an unexpected turn in a city where long-time shops, many of which are still thriving, are closing every day because of real-estate pressures. Our business columnist, Farnoosh Torabi, stopped by Ritz Furs. Read her story here. The shop has been doing well since its move, with old and new customers alike finding their way back to the business, which is now nine stories up a commercial building. Its new owners purchased the mailing list and stock from the original owners, managing to keep a New York institution alive.
Keith Tauber, the original shops longtime general manager and now the co-owner of Ritz Furs, tells Farnoosh: [Before the move] we felt we were one of New Yorks best-kept secrets, but now we are definitely one of New Yorks best-kept secrets.
But helping get the word out is, believe it or not, that old commercial, which hasn't run on television since 1988 but routinely comes up in nostalgic conversations about old New York television, sparks excited exchanges on video-sharing sites, and is regularly referenced by people who shop at the store today.
The ad is indeed a New York classic, with a clipped, distinctive announcer delivering sophisticated narration as a suave young woman gets off a city bus, saunters up to the Ritz Thrift Shop, is fitted for a fur, walks out resplendently clad, and then politely thanks the announcer after he says "you don't need a million to look like a million."
You'll be thanking us when you click here, where you can see the complete commercial, a black-and-white copy of what was a color ad. (It will play automatically in a little box above the text). This link also offers a fascinating essay on the commercial that's mandatory reading for longtime New Yorkers.
-- Rolando Pujol
Credits: Top image is from commercial via Ritz Web site; middle image: Co-owners Keith Tauber and Jeffrey Geters model furs, photo by Jonathan Scheff
Extra: Here are some photos of the Ritz Thrift Shop we snapped in July 2005, just as it was closing.