Brooklyn has stoop sales. Some explanation. A 'stoop' is what New Yorkers call the assemblage of front steps leading to the front door of the row houses called 'brownstones'. Brownstones can range in quality from luxurious to tenement. Perhaps you remember the Guns 'n Roses song, "Mr. Brownstone"? That was the tenement kind. The word 'stoop' comes from the Dutch, one of the last remnants of the old patroon and Knickerbocker era of the city. Old New York was once Nieuw Amsterdam. Anyway. My neighborhood has brownstones ranging from 'renovated beyond the dreams of yuppie avarice' to 'hey, we get by, whaddaya'. But what they all have in common are stoop sales. Especially on a nice summer's day.
What's a stoop sale? It's like what in the American Midwest we'd call a 'rummage sale' or what in Britain they'd call a 'jumble sale'. Basically, you collect all the stuff in your apartment you don't want anymore, bring it down to stoop level, and sell it, becoming a street vendor for a day. To drum up business, you might advertise it beforehand, with flyers or chalk messages on the sidewalk. Or one of the kids in the building will sell lemonade, or you make cookies. Generally it's a communal effort of everyone in the building. More variety of stuff. They're neat to browse. You usually have a class mix of stuff, because not everyone in the building will typically come from the same socioeconomic stratum. And since Brooklyn is a city of immigrants, both foreign and domestic, you can find things from all over the world. There are a lot of readers in Brooklyn. Honest. So there are a lot of books. And the best part is, you can see what sort of weird stuff your neighbors have been collecting for the last few years! People won't sell anything embarrassing, but this is Brooklyn, where the standards for personal embarrassment are rather high. "Yeah, I'm a transvestite and a cop. So what?" The neatest thing I saw this last round of stoop sales was a hat being worn by the attractive woman minding the stoop. It was a fez. It was a red velvet fez, with a tassel, a star and crescent, and the word 'SALAAM' in gold brocade on the front. It was so cool. (No, I didn't get it. Frankly, it looked much better on the woman. But it was so cool nonetheless.)