The boutique, which boasted 16 locations across the United States at the height of its popularity, announced earlier this week that it will shutter all of its doors. But less than a decade ago, it was arguably New York's hottest store. Shoppers popped in just to buy the brightly colored plastic shopping bags because if you couldn't build your fall wardrobe at Scoop, you could at least look like it. (You couldn't, actually. We weren't allowed to sell the bags.)
Scoop's whole thing was "the ultimate closet." You could grab a blazer by Rag + Bone, Castaner espadrilles, Citizens of Humanity jeans, and a Splendid T-shirt all in one place. You can, of course, do that everywhere now, but you couldn't 20 years ago, which is what put the store on the map.
"Do you plan to do anything with that degree?" a customer once asked me after learning that I had, in fact, gone to college. Graduated, even! I sure did. This was field research. And the field was rich.
I spent less than a year working in the Washington Street boutique. This was pre-Standard Hotel, when biker babes loitered around Hogs and Heifers on the corner of Washington and West 13th streets, and the smell of rotting meat was nearly unbearable in the summer. I spent my days folding jeans, tying Tory Burch tunics, and trying to convince — but not pressure — tourists into splurging on Matthew Williamson. (His was the most expensive label in the store at the time and we worked on commission, so yes, you should totally buy that disco-like sack dress!)
If a woman walked in with a Birkin on her arm, my colleagues swarmed. So I took to the customers in what would now be called athleisure, many of whom turned out to be black card-carrying, celeb-adjacent shoppers excited to drop a grand on Free City hoodies before heading to brunch at Bagatelle.
If a woman walked in with a Birkin on her arm, my colleagues swarmed.
My first big sale — north of $5,000 — was a pretty dark-haired mom who told me her husband was taking her on vacation to Hawaii, and she needed some new clothes. We spent at least one hour pulling her outfits together before I realized this nice lady's husband was Matt Damon.
There was the then-Vogue editor who threw clothes at me. Just one year later, I'd sit not so far from her at fashion shows, wishing I didn't covet her style (and expertly-highlighted blonde hair) quite so much. For one month, I helped out at the Upper East Side location on Third Avenue and one day, a child of the Real Housewives of New York (before they were that) chewed on a strappy gold Jimmy Choo sandal.
Back downtown, Jennifer Lopez popped in wearing a baby blue coat with oversized Balenciaga sunglasses; she was the most glamorous thing I'd seen up until that point. And a makeup-free Julianne Moore was the first movie star to look even less mortal in real life. She bought sweatshirts.
If someone looked vaguely familiar but I couldn't quite tell if I recognized them from the halls of my suburban high school or the rom-com I'd watched on my last flight, I'd Google their name after swiping their credit card, gossiping with my colleagues about who was nice and who was not.
I probably asked too many questions, trying to figure out who these sophisticated women were and why they needed vacation wardrobes. How did they know to buy three of the same white T-shirt? To buy the coat they loved in August instead of October? Which designer was making the must-have shoe? I read fashion magazines, but this was real life (their real life; mine was in Greenpoint) and I'd never seen anything like it.
The one person I really lost my shit over was a WWD reporter. I asked her if I could buy her a cup of coffee and ask her a million questions. She obliged and I'm sure gave me good advice, but the best thing she did was say yes, which gave me the courage to keep asking other random people I met at coffee shops, bars, or Barneys if they'd answer even more of my questions.
Working at Scoop was like going to grad school (I think, probably kind of different). I came away with valuable knowledge about how women with disposable income shop, knowledge that has absolutely shaped my understanding of fashion. And while the day I quit was one of the best of my life — because it meant I'd been offered my first full-time writing job — its closing, which coincides with my ten-year anniversary as a New York resident, feels like the end of an era.