In a great city like New York there is always room for a man or woman with a new idea and the courage to try it out. There is a constant demand for new ideas in almost every direction, wearing apparel, house decoration and knick knacks of all kinds.
The great desire for novelties in birthday, wedding and Christmas gifts alone creates a large market, and women especially with a talent for creating original schemes are reasonably certain of a ready sale for all they can produce. We have been at pains to look over a few of these little specialty shops and the results of our investigations are set forth in this chapter. Most of these shops are quite diminutive; the proprietors themselves in most cases superintend their own places, and there is a certain quietness and freedom from hurry about them that is not without its charm.
The Little Gallery at 4 East 48th Street is managed by a woman whose excellent taste in silver ware for weddnig gifts has resulted in the creation of quite a business. Her taste is evidently correct as her business is constantly expanding and her little ground floor shop on so important a retail street shows that she is succeeding.
At the "Lighthouse," 111 East 59th Street, can be seen a truly remarkable collection of baskets. Baskets for sewing, for flowers, for desks and studies; clothes baskets, Indian baskets in triangle design and colored borders; baskets with glass containers inside and handles, to hold sweet peas, garden flowers, etc.
Some also have covers to hold bread and rolls. Then there are charming reed mats in green, blue and yellow for luncheon sets. Then there are wonderful old fashioned colonial rag rugs in all sorts of pretty colors, most appropriate for bungalows, camps, etc. Bungalow and garden aprons and bags; hemmed towels, home spun for men's suits and many other delightful novelties. You will be amazed at the excellence of the workmanship of these goods.
And still more so when you are told that all this is the product of the blind! For this shop is the famous "Lighthouse" that you have read so much about in the papers and the goods are the product of these poor unfortunates whose hard lot has been so greatly lightened by the intelligent self help so skillfully planned and brilliantly carried to success by Miss Winifred Holt. You are not expected to patronize this shop as a school of charity nor is the business con-ducted in a spirit of mendicancy.
The goods are priced in open competition with the work of the world. Many large orders by the most prominent firms in New York are placed with the workers of the "Lighthouse" solely on the basis of price and merit. The "Lighthouse" is indeed a shining mark in the busy streets of old New York. It is well worth a visit and many other things that we cannot speak of here at length will be cheerfully shown you.
To those who would make an intensive shopping tour of the city we would suggest the engagement of one of those service shoppers, a number of whom there are. They are thoroughly acquainted with all the stores, big and little, know every nook and cranny of the retail district and can pilot you around in less than half the time you could do it yourself and much more thoroughly besides. They receive a slight commission on any purchases you may make through them and that is all the compensation expected.
At 14th Street we shall walk a few blocks west of the old Academy and turn at Fifth Avenue, going south to the Washington Arch. This brings us directly into another well-known quarter of the city — Greenwich Village.