There was a time, after I'd starting earning an adult wage but before there was the pitter-patter of little feet in our house, when we had something akin to "disposable" income.
We'd eat at restaurants and buy things for our apartment and, later, for our own home. We'd visit Chicago and also make an annual or twice-annual journey to Schaumburg to tour the shops we didn't have here.
We'd order a desk from Crate & Barrel at Clybourn and North – and stop at Sam's for wine – buy matching sets of espresso cups and saucers at CB2. I got a great pair of green Doc Martens at Nordstrom at Woodfield Mall, and deals on Ben Sherman shirts at the Rack, on Golf Road.
We'd visit Valli's, our favorite Italian grocery and produce store, and make a stop at Trader Joe's once in a while to get a specific wine. We'd buy build-our-own bookshelves and household ephemera at IKEA.
"Wouldn't it be nice if we had these stores in Milwaukee," we'd say, wistfully. "How can they not see the demand," we'd ask.
Slowly, these places did start to see the allure of Milwaukee – or, of Wauwatosa, more accurately.
Crate and Barrel opened at Mayfair in 2005. But by then, we'd pretty much done all the furnishing we could for our no-longer-new home. Sure, we pop in once in a while, and we make a purchase maybe once or twice a year. Really, our Crate and Barrel moment has passed for now.
With all the chatter about the Nordstrom Rack, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH and other shops at the Mayfair Collection, which opens this week, I'm feeling much the same way. I'm excited to see a moribund site come alive but my Nordstrom moment, too, has passed. It's been years since I gave up hope for a Milwaukee Nordstrom (one of which will open next year at Mayfair Mall) and canceled my "charge-a-plate."
But, I think this is probably a phase. At some point, much as I refuse and, really, don't want to believe it, some day the children will move out and we will be back to, hopefully, having the time and and the money to buy things beyond child care, groceries and little sneakers that fit.
So, welcome to Milwaukee, retailers. I'll see you, but don't wait up; it might be a while.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.