Thursday, December 13, 2007
Why Is Guinan's Closing?
The better question, perhaps, is why is Guinan's still alive?
If Guinan's had followed the path of most mom and pop joints across America, when mom or pop died, the business would have soon followed. Peg Guinan died in 1988. No matter how great a man or presence Jim Guinan is, he and Peg were a team. They needed each other. The store needed both.
Yet a miraculous things in the annals of commerce happened: into the void left by a parent, stepped the children, and then the grandchildren. At first it was Jim's youngest, Christine, and her husband Mike. They upgraded fixtures, expanded inventory, doubled the store's business and gave hope. Later it was the oldest, John who sacrificed every early morning in recent years to be there for the 5 a.m. commuters, handing them umbrellas and tossing smiles and quips long before light hit the Hudson. After John got sick, came his daughter Kelly, who has put in long hours after her regular graphic design job, giving up weekends with her boyfriend and almost all personal time. Pinch hitting through the years were Kelly's brothers Sean and Casey and her uncle Jimmy wise-cracking and slinging beers when he came to town.
But above all, the backbone since her mother's death has been Jim and Peg's first daughter , Margaret. Despite a Teflon tough shell, Margaret's kindness and devotion to her family is the main reason we've had all this borrowed time. She is the why we got an extra year last January. She is the one who stepped into her mother's shoes and has kept her father healthy and in his home for so long. And she is the one who must make this final, painful decision to close the store because the time commitment is just too much.
I cannot speak for the family and of course, wish this day would never come. Perhaps some miraculous solution will appear. But I absolutely understand the Guinan children and grandchildren need and deserve their lives back. A place like this cannot run well without full-time attention. There has been so much incredible "human duct tape" of friends stepping in to help, but in the end, as I wrote in Little Chapel, "If there's not a Guinan here, well then ... yes, well then...."
It is extraordinary that three generations have stepped forward to give what they have. Rather than question why it's ending, let's spend the upcoming weeks thanking them for what we've had.