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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Freddie's (almost) Dead!

It came unexpectedly, like a punch in the gut. Fast Buck Freddie's is closing - forever! At the end of the month. Thud!

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 Windows
Because 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.

 1950's postcard
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.


Anonymous said...

Gary, do you know if the furniture store on Caroline St is closing too? We love that store. As for the store downtown, its a fun place to go into but the clothing selection has needed an update for quite sometime.

Anonymous said...

The Citizen says "Fast Buck at Home" will stay open. I really hated hearing this news. Loved bringing visitors to Freddie's as an exemplar of true Key West. But the truth is, the prices were too high for locals and too high for the cruise-ship type tourists. Blame Google, yes, but Freddie's could have adapted the concept to today and still be thriving.... I will miss the place but I dont think you blame the customer if the store has nothing that appeals to him...

purple said...

enjoy your comments, you seem to have good grip on the real estate market, as a supply/demand equation in a fixed supply arena, similar to other expensive island ( martha's vineyard, nantucket).
i especially enjoyed your comparing the different years in measurable and manageable terms. enlightening, and it cuts through a lot of the real estate mumbo jumbo.
my question is do you follow up in any way where the houses that you write about actually sell, and the time that (actually) has elapsed between listing and closing etc. i ask because one of the house you wrote about ( 630 elizabeth ) in jan of 2012 was listed at $449,000. and just transferred a deed at $320,000.00.
i understand the property was in dire shape, will eat a ton of money to get back to where it needs to be etc. but that is a strong hair cut, hence my question.
again your blog is very helpful, very well done, thank you for your patience on reading this message

Gary Thomas said...

Purple, I usually do a year-end recap of really good deals that I wrote about and tell readers what sold and at what price.

I would add that sometimes what you see in the papers is not necessarily all that there is to a real estate deal. It's like some of the Key West houses that look so Plane Jane in front and have expansive (and expensive) back sides that you had no idea even existed.


Anonymous said...

The Captain says:

Why does the postcard from the 1950s say the view is "looking west," wouldn't it be looking south????

Captain out................


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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.