Mary Marcus: In the absence of Fred Segal

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It’s getting on Valentines Day and I miss Fred Segal. While I’m not a fashionista, much of a shopper, or even a lover of bastions of the rich and stylish, it was my go-to place for valentines and everything else too. Fred Segal was two-and-a-half blocks from my psychotherapist office, five blocks from the ocean, and three blocks from the movie theatres. Talk about location, location, location!

There’s still the Fred Segal annex across the street, with the healthy restaurant and some three-hundred-dollar t-shirts and jeans that costs even more, but the real Fred Segal was across the street, and it’s been gone since the summer. The owners of the property sold the land and sold out all the small merchants who had boutiques in the cool and whacky bazaar in Santa Monica that was unlike any store I’ve ever been to. The storeowners had exactly one month’s notice.

Not that one couldn’t find the same overpriced stuff – and more of it – at Barney’s or Neiman Marcus. But Fred Segal was a strange and wonderful place that had, among other things, the best women’s pajamas, the best women’s hats and scarves, and the nicest men’s shirts – and the best sale that went on for days where you could always find the aforementioned stuff at 75% off if you waited long enough and were just a little bit lucky.

My husband knew I liked Fred Segal, and every birthday there it would be – the familiar box from Fred Segal containing nearly the same nightgown that was too big in the bust and skintight everywhere else. I’m rather thin and I have no idea who could fit into the nightgowns he’d bring home and smilingly present other than a life-size Barbie doll. Still I will miss the yearly ritual of taking Barbie’s nightgown back and getting a fresh new pair of Fred Segal pj’s.

The Fred Segal annex as I mentioned is still there. I bought a birthday present there a couple of months ago and got a vegetable juice on the way out. But it is by no means what it used to be.

My friend Lisa when she would come to town would always say, “let’s go to George Segal.” And we would.

It had eyeglasses, lingerie, men’s stuff, girlie girl stuff, necklaces, earrings and you could always go and get a makeover from one of the cosmetic people. I used to plop myself on one of the stools and say, “OK, do me over and sell me a bunch of crap. Are you sure your brushes are clean?” They’d reassure me, and a half an hour later, I’d be a different person, or so I thought.

Now, it’s shuttered up, they are going to tear the place down and put in another Trader Joe’s and a parking garage. Probably a Whole Foods too.

What’s the world coming to? Everything is starting to look exactly the same. And Fred Segal, that quirky place with eccentricities, is now like so many other things. Just a fond memory.

Mary Marcus

 Mary Marcus is the author of The New Me and her second work, Lavina, will be published later this year. You can stay up-to-date on her blog posts at her website.

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On February 13, 2015
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