This is going to sound cliche, but Madison really is the place where people come to make their dreams come true. Not Hollywood or New York. No, no. It’s Madison, Indiana. Ever wanted to start your own art supply store? Or a place that sells old-fashioned candy? Make your own soap? Madison is the place to give it a try, and here’s your chance to get in on the action if you’ve ever dreamed of owning one of the most beautiful clothing stores in existence.
Shopping, my friends, used to be an event, like Christmas morning, and not merely something we did compulsively to treat the complete emptiness of our modern lives. People would get dressed up to go shopping. They would travel great distances. The whole family would go together. They expected the stores to be well-worth all the effort. In downtown Madison, there’s still a place that reflects that ethic.
Until a couple of years ago, 228 E. Main St. was home to Knoebel’s clothing store, the only men’s clothing store in downtown Madison. That there are any clothing stores left in our downtown is a small miracle in a world fighting against the inevitable tide of destruction that is Wal-Mart and other big box stores. But Knoebel’s did not survive. The building that housed the store is still hanging on.
Let me just confess that none of the pictures here, nor the video which you can go to here, do justice to the inside of this store. If you want to see how beautiful it is, you need to get in your car and drive to Madison now. The interior of this store was built at a time when clothes were a big deal. They were not manufactured in China by poorly paid women to be worn for a year and then thrown away. They were the end product of a craft, a word we now use to describe hobbies like knitting, but which used to describe things that take time to learn and talent to elevate to an art form. You had to learn how to make a shirt, and it took time. The finished product deserved a store that reflected the care and labor involved.
The cabinets in this store are made of mahogany and quarter sawn oak. Okay, I had to look up what quarter sawn oak is, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t really gorgeous. Here’s the important point: when you walk into this building, you will want to imagine yourself owning it, just so you can stand inside whenever you want and take in the beauty of something well-made. Eventually, you may begin to picture the things that might sit on the mahogany shelves and inside the oak cabinets. You might imagine the beautiful, open apartment space you could re-finish for yourself upstairs. You might eventually find yourself sitting in a chair outside your store on the sidewalk on warm summer days, saying hello to the people walking by.
This building is cheap, and if I had $165,000, I would not be writing this post. I would be buying this building. Perhaps you can. This building will not make you a millionaire, but it could make you happy. The building is cheap; what’s inside might just be priceless.