Another agent in my office gave the bad news a couple of days ago. A mutual friend who works at Fast Bucks had called her minutes earlier to tell her the owner had assembled all of the store emloyees that morning to make the surprise announcement that they would be out of a job by the end of the month.
I have previously written about my first trip to Key West. I had read about Key West in the January 1978 issue of a magazine called "After Dark". (I still have the magazine. I get it out of the shoebox every once in a while and look at the photos and read some of the text that lured me into coming to the place I would later become my home. It took me several years before I made the first trip to Key West and nine years later before I bought my first place here. My only regret is that I took too long to do both.)
My partner and I had reserved a room for a week at what was then called Colours Guesthouse (now it is Marrero's) at 410 Fleming Street. We had driven down from spending the previous night at some awful, seedy gay hotel on South Beach. The drive through the Keys was wonderous. Driving across the ocean. When I got to the island of Key West I had to choose whether to turn right or turn left. I chose the latter and headed south. I made a right turn on Eagle or Flagler and headed toward where I hoped I would find Old Town. I was mortified. I thought "What have I done? Why did I come here?" There was nothing charming to me about the 1960s neighborhood I was driving through. But I kept heading west and eventually found Duval Street. I headed north and found Fleming and then circled around till I found the guesthouse. After unpacking the car and finding a place to park it for a week (not an easy thing to do even back then), we headed out to explore Key West.
Fast Buck's 1985 - the first time in Key West
Recent WindowsBecause of its proximity to the guesthouse, Fast Buck Freddie's had to among the first places we visited. I was awestruck. I had never seen a store like it. Of course I had been in great department stores and specialty stores before, but this place was something totally different. First off, the display windows were so gay they drew my attention to the store. I had to go inside to see what was available. You've been there. You've seen it. Back then it was mostly really cute stuff you could not find in regular stores. Fast forward twenty eight years and it is a different story. The Internet has made specialty shopping available anywhere UPS delivers. Items can be purchased at prices cheaper than a place like Fast Buck Freddie's could sell at to make a profit. Hence, the store is closing. Or at least this is my theory. This closing is not Obama's fault. It is Google's fault. And the fault of locals like me. I'd buy Christmas cards and an occasional gift there. I used to buy Godiva chocolates at Fast Bucks until I learned I could get them directly from Godiva at a cheaper price, not pay sales tax, and have them delivered for free. And if I bought enough, I could get cash discounts on future orders. I buy much of what I need this way. This partly is why so many small businesses across America are failing. But this closing hits home.
I found a couple of photos of the Fast Buck Freddie's building at 500 Duval Street that were taken over the decades that preceded the little emporium. See below.
May 12, 2012
I have no idea what will happen with the space. Perhaps some reader will give us a clue. Of this I am certain, the space will be grabbed and put to use quite quickly. You can't beat the location. Photos and stories about Fast Buck Freddie's will be all that remain. Freddie's dead. Almost.