Sheba’s Exports was the final resident of this now completely dilapidated building. Very early in its history, this warehouse was part of a marine terminal. Today, you’d never be able to tell from what’s left of the place. The exterior is shrouded on scaffolding, and the majority of the property is tucked behind a fence.
Sheba’s was in the clothing business, in a very odd way. They exported used clothing to other countries (primarily Pakistan according to the records we found). Second hand clothing isn’t just something the cool kids get at their local thrift store. In some parts of the world, it’s the only way many people can afford clothing at all. At some point Sheba’s went out of business though, and they left behind a warehouse still filled with secondhand clothing that was baled into huge 6×6 foot cubes. Taking a guess from the records we found and the clothing in these bundles, it appears this operation ended sometime in the late 1980s. Leftover inventory was abandoned in place – much like the massive clothing piles once found at Greenpoint Terminal Market. Perhaps the market for secondhand clothing collapsed around the same time?
Today, the remaining set of buildings sit condemned and decaying.
Snip, Snip, Snip. Bold are those who love to cut holes in fences, and bolder still are those who cut chains off doors in broad daylight. This is what real exploring is all about.
The plywood door creaked open with a throaty rumble, the froggy auditory excitement soon replaced by the overpowering, punch-you-in-the-face stench of old, wet fabric. Let me tell you, wet fabric might look hot on a woman but holy shit when you bundle up pallets full of the stuff and leave it sitting for a decade or two, wow. There’s no words for a smell like that.
The absolute darkness of the first floor is impressive. There are no windows, and what lays in front of you is a maze of tall, fairly neatly stacked clothing bundles. Think of a corn maze, only one with a distinct smell. Eventually, after what seemed like forever, we found stairs leading up.
Here the floors are bad. You can see the floorboards rotting through in some sections – small holes appear. The walls of the stairs are tin – one of those architectural elements you just don’t see anymore.
Second floor, Ladies Lingerie.
Actually, no. The second floor is disgusting. The drop ceiling has collapsed, leaving a slushy stick tacky coating on the floor and anything left above it.
The third floor ironically is much more interesting and significantly less disgusting. It’s up here that we found some interesting old files, rare graffiti, and piles – not so much of clothing as what seemed like homeless person bits. Useless crap. Chairs, bow ties, toys, and yes, the occasional hole in the floor.
Content that we’ve seen what we need to see, read the files we wanted to read, and had sex with your sister in the back room, we’re off. Back down the stairs and out into the daylight. By now it seems our bold and brazen entry tactics have not gone unnoticed. We make our way off the scaffold, onto the street, and back to the car. We drive a few blocks and loop back around – at which point we see the police have rolled up and are looking around. We were probably inside for at least a half hour, so either the response time was very slow (if we were seen going in), or incredibly fast (if seen coming out).
And so it goes. Another adventure, another escape. This is the nature of exploring. It’s not for everyone, but for us… it’s routine…