By Karen Farber
Since the landlord has failed to clean up the disgusting building at 120 West 74th Street (other than to paint over the neighborhood protest graffiti labeling it “the Rat House”), local entrepreneurs have started using the infamous location for a more benign reason; every weekend it is now the unofficial home of the on-going Rat House Garage Sale!
Maintained by a core group of laid off or underemployed neighborhood women – all with good taste and lots of stamina – every Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting) the sidewalk in front of the Rat House is home to a plethora of tastefully displayed wares. The items range from antiques to kitsch, often including work done by local struggling artists. The ladies have taken advantage of the notoriety linked to the building and advertise their sale on fliers as “Garage Sale at the Rat Hous” (the “e” is intentionally omitted to give it an air of mystery, one of the ladies said with a wink ;-).
Word of mouth and tongue in cheek advertising posters have resulted in a small but loyal following of repeat customers who drop by every weekend to check out the goods and schmooze with their neighbors. In addition to locals, many shoppers come by to ask about the Rat House name on the signs and then end up buying a gently-used designer bag or mongoose trap (really).
As winter approaches, the ladies will eventually have to go inside for the winter (just like the rats) but for now the sales are helping them make ends meet until the economy picks up again.