Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz, too.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



Terry wanted to sell Notre Dame paraphernalia from an empty store I had across from St. James Church.  He had just come back from South Bend, Ind., with a carload of merchandise.  [Terry isn’t his real name.]

He sang in two church choirs, knew the bishop, and knew the town’s development director, Kelly.  He knew the mayor too, FitzGerald.   And probably knew the former building director, Fitzgerald.

Terry wanted the rent lowered.

I couldn’t figure out if he had any money.

He kept talking choirs.  He sang in two — St. Ignatius and St. Malachi.  That wasn’t money.

I told him my building manager sang in a choir too — a Ukrainian one. “Call the manager to see the inside of the store,” I said. “He lives in an apartment right above the store.”

“You own the apartments above too?” Terry said.  “I’m looking for a place.”

That was a bad.  Maybe Terry’s car trunk had all his worldly possessions, plus the Notre Dame gear.

I told him I had a vacancy upstairs. “Too bad about Notre Dame’s final twenty-two seconds against Michigan,” I said.

He didn’t want to talk football.  I couldn’t blame him . . . Michigan and Notre Dame.

Terry didn’t rent — the store or the apartment.

I’ve only had a couple commercial tenants who also lived in the building.  I had a photographer who lived in the basement of his shop.  That was free living quarters. The photographer installed a dishwasher, stall shower and kitchen.   He was down there for decades, and the city never looked.  That photographer should have had a bumpsticker: “Thank God I’m a Morlock.”  (In the 1980s, ethnic bumperstickers were a fad in Cleveland. “Thank God I’m Slovenian” was the most popular, I think.  “Thank God I’m Jewish” was special order.)

I had a barber who lived over her store.  She paid extra.  Her store had a window sign: “Fighter Chick Parking Only.”  She was a lesbian Puerto Rican cage fighter who got along with everybody.  (She’s still there, but doesn’t live in the apartment.)

I had a Chinese tenant who lived beneath his meditation and “healing arts” studio.  He lasted 10 years.  (He didn’t live under the store all those years.  Only after his divorce.)   If you develop a following, you can make it in a business like healing.  Yoga is another field like that.  Charisma-driven.  I have a yoga store that seems to be doing well.  The owner is very outgoing.

I had a tenant who re-sold children’s toys.  She left me a basement of orphaned Fisher-Price kids.  A whole basement: the kids, plus broken schoolhouses, gas stations and school buses.  Also, Little Tykes picnic tables and Big Wheels.  I wish she had left a Fisher-Price dump truck.

2 of 2 posts for 11/25/09

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1 comment

1 Irwin Weinberger { 11.25.09 at 12:01 pm }

Great stories, Bert!! Especially the Fisher-Price dump truck. I nearly laughed out loud with that one.

I’ve fantasized off and on about having a storefront and living quarters in the same building.

Any good rental spaces available for a klezmer boutique on the West Side?

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