Stimulate this

Shopping local? How ’bout a nice Hawaiian shirt?

You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone, as the song goes. It’s far from my favorite tune, but I’ve been hearing it a lot lately. So have you, but just in case you didn’t recognize the melody, it goes something like this.

It’s three days before Christmas, and I’m walking down K Street to Grind & Groove, Sacramento’s self-styled “high-end, sex-positive adult boutique,” where I planned to make some last-minute gift purchases for one of my closer friends. OK, and maybe a little something for myself. OK, maybe not so little.

That’s what I like about Grind & Groove. Not to disparage Sacramento’s many other fine adult novelty shops, but Grind & Groove is the kind of place you can walk into and not feel quite so ashamed, even though one of the clerks has a nasty habit of following patrons downstairs, where they keep all the heavy artillery. In a word, Grind & Groove has taste, or as much taste as a porn store can have.

Actually, I should say Grind & Groove had taste, because when I got to the storefront, it was gone. I mean gone, completely gutted, all the merchandise removed, all the signage taken down, no forwarding address or phone number. It was as if Grind & Groove never existed.

The same thing happened to me a week later, when I stopped at Broadway Hardware to pick up a couple of wood screws. No notice, no explanation, just gone, wiped out by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

There’s something palpable about such experiences that the avalanche of bad economic news we’ve been buried under recently doesn’t quite capture. Suppose I’d gone to Grind & Groove and made my purchase a week earlier. Would they still be in business now? What if I’d never gone to Home Depot and had always shopped at Broadway Hardware? What if I’d realized what I had before it was gone?

Which brings us to my landlord, Lauren Lundsten, who happens to own Swanberg’s on J Street, the Midtown store that specializes in all things Hawaiian. Last week, he informed me that Michelle Swanberg, his girlfriend and business partner, was closing the original Swanberg’s on 21st and X streets. Michelle’s store specializes in eclectic collectibles, and after 28 years of operation, she’ll be closing her doors for good at the end of the month.

OK, now I’m worried. Economics has been called the rational pursuit of our own self-interest, and I feel my own self-interest being threatened. Lauren and Michelle live together in their home; my girlfriend and I rent the totally sweet Hawaiian-styled bungalow Lauren bought before he met Michelle.

But suppose R.E. Graswich and Walt Gray, two of Lauren’s more celebrated customers, suddenly decide to stop buying Hawaiian shirts? What if Swanberg’s on J goes under, too? Will Lauren and Michelle be forced to sell their current home and move in with us? Or will they give us the heave-ho altogether? This is a serious matter; we really like our little bungalow!

Lauren assures me that’s not going to happen. No. 1: No sane individual is going to unload their home in this sorry housing market. No. 2: “We have way too much stuff to move into that little house.”

So he says—but I’m not so certain. I want to believe, but my own economic self-interest tells me drastic action is required. I’ve already bought my Hawaiian shirt, and R.E. and Walt have closets full of them. But as bad-ass as the three of us are, we can’t support Sacramento’s economy all by our lonesomes. That’s why I’m calling upon every SN&R reader who has ever wanted a Hawaiian shirt to get off their butts and go down to Swanberg’s on J and buy one today.

Think of it as a win-win-win scenario. You get to add a little color to your life, we get to keep our home and Lauren gets to say in business. Besides, aren’t you tired of listening to the same old song?