Jerry Ohlinger’s Movie Material Store — oh the hours I spent in that place, both in its original location, on West Third Street, then on West 14th. (I never made it to its now final resting place, West 35th.)
He had everything a movie memorabilia fanatic could want: one-sheets, two-sheets—massive foreign three sheets!—lobby cards, 8″x10″s, black-and-whites, postcards, 22″x28″s. I can’t tell you how much money I blew on that stuff once upon a time.
And now the brick-and-mortar Jerry is going out of business for good.
With the Internet stealing customers, business isn’t what it used to be, and the nine-thousand-dollar-a-month rent is more than movie photos can pay. Jerry will be closing his shop and selling just online in the next three to six months.
This is unfortunate, because a computer screen will never provide the physical, sensory experience you get when you step into Ohlinger’s. An obsessively organized clutter of movie posters and postcards, stacks of DVDs, and boxes full of eight-by-seventeen poster reproductions, the small front of the store is walled by towering shelves packed with shopworn three-ring binders, all strapped with duct tape and hand-labelled in Magic Marker with the names of the movie stars contained within. The space smells of Jerry’s cigar and the musty vanilla aroma of old paper slowly decaying.
“We’ve got about two hundred and fifty thousand to three hundred thousand photos in all these books,” Jerry says, waving his gummy, unlit cigar in the air.
It was almost as much fun to see Jerry as it was to wade through freshly released stuff. He always looked like he had just rolled out of bed, down Sixth Avenue, and into the store—smoked-down cigar perma-pressed into his jaw. A guy who seemed to live for his store—a blessed monomaniac. I may have tried to get a job there once, but I don’t remember. I may have been too intimidated to ask, or afraid the pay was so low, I couldn’t afford my dream gig.
One more great haunt down the New York City rent rathole.
Why couldn’t progress have stopped with air conditioning, vaccines, and double-stuffed Oreos?