Cold Winds, Modern Furniture and a $150 Cup of Coffee

Today, Liz and I decided to swing by Design Within Reach to just browse around. Several months back, I had been near here with Allison… but the store was closed. I sent Liz a photo of the inside through my cellphone, figuring she’d be interested in some of their stuff. After that day, we both decided we’d come back one day – just to browse.

I’ve always been curious about this large, brick smokestack. I’ve seen it from afar, but never really knew its purpose. My best guess is that some larger structure used to occupy this lot, and this is all that remains.

We pull in and park, and decide to walk across the street to the nearby Starbucks for some coffee.

Notice that part? Walking across the street? Yeah.

We get our coffees and it’s maybe 8 or 9 minutes since we left. We walk back, and my car is gone.

Poof. Just like that.

Liz and I are looking around, scanning the signs, re-reading the “rules” of the parking lot. A guy in a black car (who was there when we pulled up) yells to us “Hey, I think they just towed your shit!” And so we call the number listed, and find out it’s a lot on Halsted and Division.

It’s freezing out. Strong winds, the temperature is in the single digits… and it feels like it’s maybe ten below outside. We find a cab, but it turns out neither one of us has any cash. When I ask to use a card, the cab drive tells me his machine is busted.

At this point, I’m pretty upset (I snapped at Liz prior, and I ended up getting mad at the cabbie). I ask him if his machine is really broken, or if he’s simply refusing to take cards. The guy responds by telling me not to take it out on him, and that he’s willing to drive us to an ATM.

In a huff, I decide we’ll just walk. More about the cab thing later.

So. 15 minutes and several frozen nostril hairs later… we arrive at the lot. I show my ID, they charge me $150… and we’re back in the car. We drive back to the parking lot and park near where we were to begin with.

And what do I notice? Same black car is there, engines still running. Liz said she saw a cop open the back door and climb in. After I turned off the car, I walked over and tapped on their window. I asked if they were monitoring the lot, and the guy says “No, no. I’m just here waiting for a friend.” The car windows are tineted, and the guy in the passenger seat is holding a walkie-talkie. Yeah.

When I ask about what the “rules” are for the parking lot, he just says something like “I guess… if you leave, they can get you.”

For those that are shopping around North Ave and Kingsbury… be wary of the lots, and leave them at your own peril. If nothing else, let my bad luck serve as a warning to others, and maybe I can prevent one of you from getting hosed in this way.

I think it’s all bullshit, since what they’re basing their judgements on is a customer’s intention. And in this particular case, the were wrong about my intentions. I think it’s silly to be so Draconian about the parking situation around here, even though it does get busy on the weekend. But I guess if the towing company is making $150 for 15 minute of work, there’s really no argument. Nothing I say is stronger than their payrate of $10 per minute.

One thing I’d like to argue for: more signs. I didn’t see any signs on my way out that warned of towing if I so much as left the lot. Had I seen those, I would have heeded them.

This is the warning sign on the entrance of Design Within Reach.

This is the warning sign on the entrance of the nearby art store.

In both cases, if I’m heading here, then it’s not a problem. I called Starbucks later, asking them to place a sign on their back door – warning about the towing. From what they said, they can’t put anything “hand-written” up, as a company policy. A note on their back door warning about tows would have been nice. Personally, I can give them 150 reasons why I think it’s a good idea.

Ok. Enough! A sucky way to start the Saturday, but eventually I shook it off. Besides, you’re not here to listen to me whine and complain. Let’s make with the pictures.

I’ve been out of practice with taking photos in public. After being in the store for a while, I finally got up the nerve to ask if it was ok to snap some pics. They were fine with things, and the more I took… the more comfortable I became.

There were several walls with little quotations or sayings, which I liked (above).

A cool collection of sleek desklamps. I saw one or two that I liked, but the bulbs themselves looked crazy expensive.

Bedframes. I like how “open” these all feel, but the more I walked around… I’m less certain about whether I like the more modern look to the pieces here. While a lot of stuff looks quite clean, it also strikes me as overly formal and stark.

Main gallery area, near the front.

I liked this quotation a great deal, as it made me think about computers and technology design as well.

Funky sofa: Liz spotted out that it probably folds out to become a bed.

Main gallery area, opposite view.

When I was a kid, my parents got me one of the best Star Wars gifts ever: the Imperial AT-AT Walker. I mention this now because near the head of the toy, there were two turret guns protruding. If you fired the guns, they would pump back and forth, and lit up. The guns themslves were pieces of glass/plastic, and carried light from a bulb buried inside the toy’s head.

In looking at this chandelier – I thought of that effect, and how it was being used here: a light source near the top, and the glass carrying that light through each of its stems. Pretty neat.

A neat collection of photos of various chairs…

Various actual chairs…

Central area.

And… last but not least, the $150 cup of coffee.

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