"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

SHADOW GAMES: What’s In A Name?

James Reynolds Jr. has been called a lot of names. He was Jimmy to his grandmother and Junior to the rest of the family. In school the other kids tagged him Bern, which was short for Bernie Williams his favorite Yankee.

Most people in the Bronx just call him J.R. these days, but in Manhattan he’s known as Mr. Quick.

Some say he sells more designer handbags than anyone else in New York City.

“I just know the flow of the crowds around here,” Mr. Quick explained. “The key is being fast on the setup and the getaway. That’s how I earned my name.”

Mr. Quick moves everything on a small cart. When he locates a good spot the handbags are scooped up and arranged over old bed sheets on the sidewalk.

“People flock like pigeons to popcorn if you hit it right,” Mr. Quick said. “But you don’t want to draw too much attention. That brings the cops and then you’re out of business.”

So Mr. Quick has rules if you want to buy his French-designed handbags that are made in New York.

“The small bags are $20 and the big bags are $40,” he explained to a group outside the Winter Garden Theatre last night. “I don’t make change and don’t even think of asking for a receipt. Take it or leave it.”

Most of them took it.

Mr. Quick pocketed the cash and packed the leftovers. He was headed up Broadway when a woman shouted:

“Stop. Please wait.”

Mr. Quick kept walking, but the woman caught him near 54th Street.

“I just want to buy a bag,” she said. “But our tour bus is leaving so I need to make it quick.”

“That’s my name,” he said.

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1 Joe L.   ~  Nov 29, 2008 12:33 pm

French designer bags made in New York. What am I missing here?

2 Todd Drew   ~  Nov 29, 2008 12:50 pm

Joe L.,
People like the French handbags, but they can cost several hundred dollars each. There are workers right here in our city who can make the same type of merchandise much cheaper. Now Mr. Quick is a Patriot and he would rather keep Americans working than fill the pockets of French millionaires. They call the handbags: bootlegs or knockoffs. The laws call it trademark counterfeiting. Some people call it justice. I guess it depends on where you’re standing.

3 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Nov 30, 2008 5:57 am

Todd, I really really love reading your stories. Makes me seriously nostalgic for the city...thanks, and keep them coming.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver