CL Lighting

I remember when I first visited NYC in February 2004. I was in from London and it was my first time back in the USA in over two years. I was in town for an academic conference, visiting my sister and meeting up with a few friends, and wanted to have a taste of the city that then I was considering and now do call home.

Of course I visited the Canal Street & SoHo areas. And one place I stumbled upon was so exciting that it stuck with me since – indeed I visited it in my first week after moving here, knowing it would have many parts and supplies I would need – was the CL Lighting store on Canal Street, between Greene and Mercer. Way cooler than any Ryness or Micro Anvika of London, this store crammed every known lighting and electrical component into a store the size of a nutshell. They carried everything, from expensive track lighting rigs on down to individual parts – wires, tubing, switches, etc. – that you could use to fabricate your own lighting units. They carried a good selection of tape and unique hand tools, some of which I never figured out what their utilitarian use was!

Then, near the end of last month they went out of business.

CL Lighting

They gave less than two weeks notice to the public. I talked with them and apparently their lease was up and their rent was increasing. They couldn’t afford to stay.

What could afford to stay in the area? Canal Street is growing in notoriety and popularity with tourists who bulge the sidewalks to capacity on a near-daily basis. The irony of the situation is said notoriety is what draws people to the Canal Street area. They hear about how wacky and crazy it is, about how you can find almost everything imaginable here, and the selection of warez is un-matched. Indeed they’re talking about places like CL Lighting and the nearby Pearl River, and the dozens of other unique stores that make this place what it is. But as more and more people make their way here, it’s being over-ran by a homogeneous and stale shopping culture. There’s a growing number of ‘bag stores’ in the area – every store, just like every other store, that sell designer bags at street prices. They’re nearly all identical in layout, selection and price range. (I forgot to take my own photo for example, but here’s a good idea of what I’m talking about)

Surely, the uniqueness of CL Lighting couldn’t be matched by just another bag store?

No, not one bag store! But two!

CL Lighting

What’s worse, I thought, surely these places, just like every other place, can’t be popular. They can’t have something that hasn’t been seen a hundred times before on the same street. Right? I was as amazed as you! Watch the lady in black as she passes the store, and rubbernecks to inspect the warez without ever stopping:

CL bags

CL Lighting will be truly, truly missed. And one can only wonder where will all the galleries, artists and other stores in the area go when they need lighting equipment on the fly? They easily supplied everyone within a square mile. I always knew I could nip into the electrical store and pick up a halogen 150W flood or 50W spot lamp, a compact fluorescent, a standard incandescent bulb, or any kind of extension strip, or component, as I needed them. This place was such a hub of activity, where will all that energy be re-directed to?