Monday, May 12, 2008

Pre-Glasnost NY

It never ceases to amaze me what people will stand in line for in this city. For example, groceries at Trader Joe's, where one shopper calls it a "pre-glasnost Soviet grocery store." People complain about the line, but I think they like it. In fact, I think the line is the whole point.

It seems some people really enjoy being in certain lines. Lines are hot. The line outside the Magnolia cupcake bakery is hot. And the recently opened Grom gelato store this weekend had people standing out on the street to get, um, gelato in 50-degree weather. So the Grom line must also be hot.



But the hottest line to be in has got to be Shake Shack's, where people wait forever (like hours) to get burgers and fries and say "totally worth it." Why do they do this?

People like being pressed up against each other. Have you ever noticed how, though there are two down escalators exiting the Union Square Regal megaplex, every single person flooding out of a movie crams onto the same escalator and nobody but nobody goes down the empty one?



Since waiting in line is fun, the Shake Shack line comes with posters instructing people waiting to do "Shack-cercises." I didn't see anybody actually doing them, though. And if you ever feel lonely for the Shake Shack line, you can always watch it from home or work on the SS webcam.



Celebrating this most popular and possibly longest line in town, Shake Shack sells a t-shirt featuring the line itself. As if the line were an attraction. Which, let's admit, it is. And instead of loving NY, the t-shirt says, "I Shake-Shack NY."

Which I guess is the goal of every chain--to turn itself into a verb and then "do it" to the city. Shake Shack is spreading rapidly, heading to 77th and Columbus next, then possibly Citi Field.



Maybe what the mom-and-pops need are lines. Here's an idea for some ambitious group of performance artists: Dress up like Sex & the City girls and make lines outside of the most unfashionable places. Do it outside Met Foods. Do it at the Sweet Banana Candy Store. Do it at the Donut Pub. Do it at Show World.

P.S. Already, they are clamoring to get in line for Ikea, as if they've never been to the one in Jersey. Ikea has had to issue a warning to potential liner-uppers, says City Room, "Customers will not be allowed to line up outside the new Ikea in Red Hook, Brooklyn, until 48 hours before the grand opening."

14 comments:

Tree said...

ohh, so that's what the line in Madison Square Park is for. I was scared to get close and check it out, lest I get sucked in.

L'Emmerdeur said...

I pick up some Shake Shack once in a while on my way home from work, and there are few if any people in line. Going anywhere at peak hours is just plain dumb.

Anonymous said...

J, after reading this distressing entry, it's obvious that NY is no longer a city but an overpriced mental institution. The gargoyles have taken over the cathedral!

Anonymous said...

The reason why people would flock Shake Shack, Magnolia Bakery, etc. at their peak hours or when there is a line is because of mob mentality -- individuals in a group act together without planned direction to be part of something bigger that is not in their own lives; or as you had defined, they need a pretend life because they feel like their soul is empty and lacking any sense of self. Hence, they need to borrow their identity from the outside world (like the Shake Schacks), otherwise, if they go there when there's no line, they feel alienated, anxious, terrified of the unfamiliar, thus they cling to the known.

Anonymous said...

People are such sheep. It's in their nature. When peope don't have much of a choice, they get excited when the new republic of capitalism gives them a new chain store. Remember, this is the "empire state".

Anonymous said...

Be careful of what you don't wish for. Sooner or later, there will be a shake shack in Union Square.

What movie did you see at Union Square Regal Cinemas? Last time I was there, went to see '21'(not my choice) on its opening night, and I just couldn't stand the crowd that was there, with their mindless chatter (e.g., the couple in front of us were discussing that the movie was a best selling book that won the Pulitzer Prize) I really need to dumb myself down or go with the flow and be a sheep so that I can appreciate the new NYC [more].

Jeremiah Moss said...

update: the red hook ikea has issued a pre-48-hour ban to overzealous liner-uppers.

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/12/hoping-the-swedish-meatballs-hold-out-in-red-hook/#more-2809

Anonymous said...

I guess the Shake Shack line isn't as bad compare to the Bryant Park film fest in the summer. You know, the one where people starts jumping up and down, arms held high, as that classic HBO intro comes on, before the movie starts. I mean, I like watching movies, especially free, in the outdoors, but I never actually stood up and started jumping around like a maniac before the movie starts. I know it's a tradition but I still don't get it. I guess this Shake Shack line will be the new tradition.

Maybe if they show the Milford Commercial (the lullaby of broadway) before the movie, then maybe, just maybe, I'll start jumping up and down. Then again, I'll probably be alone in this and people would wonder, why is that guy jumping up and down? Perhaps Bryant Park should also have ban on the HBO intro overzealous jumpers.

Ando228 said...

Man I hate that Trader Joe's line but they have such good affordable cereal. I buy 4 boxes every time I'm there. That's 3 weeks of breakfast for less than $10. Seriously.

Anonymous said...

If you hate your City so much, why don't you just leave?

BaHa said...

Jeremiah, Must argue this one. I would never wait on line outside Trader Joe's, but I will wait happily on line inside. I walk out with two full shopping bags of good products for thirty bucks. Not doing it because I love lines; I do it because I'm an editorial freelancer, and I love/need their prices.
And, on another topic, I am waiting for my city, and the city of my ancestors, to rise again. I got nearly driven into the street today by SATC girls making their way to Supper. They were astonished that I didn't move out of their way (they were walking four abreast); I heard one of them say, "Who does she think she is?"

Nesta said...

A new place that has sprung lines: A pizza joint on 14th between, I think, 1st and 2nd. I believe it's called Artichoke? The window advertises pizza and beer. For some reason this attracts lines out the door and onto the sidewalk. I mean, I love pizza, but what is attracting these lines?

Anonymous said...

I live in Manhattan and still don't comprehend who's actually waiting on these lines, especially since they're pretty simple to avoid, i.e. hit shake shack at 3:30 or 10pm during the week; don't go near Trader Joe's afterwork, etc. (BTW, Artichoke is crazy because it was mentioned on many food blogs for its unique pizza)

Bob said...

Am I the only one who fantasizes about a speeding car peeling off the street, rolling up on the curb and just going GTA style on these line-dwellers?