She’s standing at the counter at Glitters next to her pile of chosen wares, the prize piece — a chromed-out, 3-foot sword, bejeweled and hilted in shiny gold — glinting in the afternoon light. She’s on the phone.
“Yeah, I know,” she says. “But Glitters is closing and everything is half off.” She glances again at the sword, wrapped in plastic, resting in an open box.
“If we both do half,” she says, “I think we can do it.”
Behind the counter, Gary Banksey sighs through his moustache and steps outside for a smoke.
Gary still prefers Marlboro reds, from a soft pack if you can believe it. He’s working on one now, in shaky puffs in the open alcove in front of his store on South Elm Street. His eye keeps glancing at the sign in the window, which to him feels a little like a tombstone: “Going out of business sale. Everything 50% off.”
“I want it to say something about my wife, Martha Smith,” Gary says, curling smoke from his nostrils. “She curated this whole place. And she’s the only reason we’re in downtown Greensboro in the first place.”
He pauses. Smokes.
“And I want to thank everybody for patronizing us for 30 years,” he adds.
Glitters began 27 years ago on the corner of South Elm and McGee streets and moved up the block to Washington and Elm, where for a quarter century Gary ran what is sometimes nostalgically referred to as a head shop: posters, T-shirts, sunglasses, chattering teeth and fake vomit, and in the back the accoutrements of marijuana consumption: papers, pipes and tubes — one crafted to resemble a coffee cup, another that looks like a ray gun.
But Glitters always had an artistic sensibility that transcended the incense and Bob Marley posters with pop art, classic statuary and obscure items that you didn’t know you wanted until you saw them: A 5-foot Betty Boop statue, a relief of Ganesh, a set of brass knuckles, a detox kit, a genuine crystal ball, 30 coconut monkeys.
And now it’s over — or will be soon. Gary hopes to stay open through Christmas, long enough to liquidate a collection that took a generation to compile.
She doesn’t buy the sword.
So Gary snuffs out his Marlboro and ambles back inside, to put her discarded items back on the shelves.
Giltters will be open through Christmas, or until everything is sold.
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