New York stories: Eddie Huang shares a New York memory
Guest blogger Eddie Huang tells us about a moneymaking hustle he pulled as a law school student.
Mon Oct 7 2013
Photograph courtesy VICE Media
Welcome to New York Stories, in which some of our favorite New Yorkers tell a story—funny, heartwarming, sad, whatever—about this great city. This week, Eddie Huang relives a moneymaking hustle he pulled as a law school student.
I was in law school, and I really needed money because I'd missed a student-loan deadline, and so I didn't have money for my second year when it started. My boy had been importing Nikes from stores that couldn't move them in a big way, and he was selling them. And then he started wanting to make shirts to match the sneakers he was selling.
We both went to Cardozo Law School, which is a yeshiva, and it was our second year there during the High Holidays. It was the first week of October, right before Sukkot. It's when the Mets had Shawn Green, who would sit out games during the Jewish High Holidays—if the game conflicted, he'd sit out. I think he was one of the most confident Jewish baseball players, and a lot of the friends we had at Cardozo, they loved Shawn Green. So we made T-shirts that said "Yom Kippur Clipper." You know how they had DiMaggio, the Yankee Clipper? So we made these Mets shirts that said "Yom Kippur Clipper."
What we did was, me and my friend Jay, we started to go onto the 4 train. People were taking the train up and down to go to the Mets game, and we went down in the tunnel of the 4 train at Grand Central—right near the 7. So people would get off the 4 or get off the 6 to get on the 7 train to go up to Flushing. We just stood in that little hallway from the train, in and out, and set up shop selling T-shirts. It was crazy! It was 2006, I was super super broke, it was my second year in New York at the time—and it worked! We ended up selling all of our shirts that day. People loved it.
We sold 120 shirts at least. And we did it real ghetto. We'd start off at $15 and then somebody'd say, "Let me get two for $10." And then it was, "Okay, they're two for $12." Some we sold for $7, some for $10, some for $15. It was a lot of haggling and subway retail. It was a fun experience, and it wasn't like we were doing it as tourists; we ended up doing it a couple times—we just needed the money, and I had no idea how good subway business can be. There's a lot of New Yorkers that buy things in the subway.
The Mets fans got it, and if they weren't fans, they were just Jewish people that were buying early Hanukkah gifts. They just thought it was hilarious that there was a Chinese kid and a black kid selling "Yom Kippur Clipper" T-shirts. To me, that's New York. That's crazy, multicultural, hustler New York—always trying to get a dollar.
Eddie Huang is the owner of Taiwanese bun restaurant Baohaus, which has locations on the Lower East Side and the East Village. In his VICE Web series, Fresh Off the Boat, he examines global subcultures through the lens of food. The premiere of season two aired last week, and it's the first of a three-chapter episode titled "Mongolia." Part two airs tonight (October 7), with the rest of the episodes screening every Monday through the end of March.
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