Sid Harris, a businessman who has more fabric than anyone in Minnesota and maybe the world, desperately wants a piece of wedding cake.
For nearly 50 years, the owner of S.R. Harris Fabric has angled for a piece of cake when he helps brides navigate his fabric outlet packed with millions and millions of bolts. “I love cake. I always ask them to bring me some cake. Nobody ever has,” he said, ever so mournfully.
I think Harris’ cake dry spell is coming to an end.
This summer when I met Harris at his Brooklyn Park outlet, Minneapolis bride-to-be Megan Multhaup, a medical liaison, was shopping for her Saturday wedding to Ryan Flynn, a clinical researcher. Megan and her mom, Lorraine Multhaup, of Winona, Minn., were in the market for table runner material. (With the help of Megan’s dad, Jim Multhaup, who prefers working with drywall, they are dressing 20 tables for 150 wedding guests.) Harris was begging for cake throughout Megan’s and Lorraine’s pursuit of material in blue, teal and a mixture of both, on which they got an even better deal than the 50 percent off that fabrics are already marked.
Megan said she would bring Harris cake.
“We’ll be coming back from Nisswa, the Grand View, Sunday,” Lorraine told me. “[Megan] said, Well, I can drop it off Sunday on the way home.”
If this wedding cake doesn’t make it to Harris, I’ll buy him a cake. One complaint down and one to go …
Stand-up with Sid
You have not toured S.R. Harris until Sid Harris has been your guide.
We met one day when he was kind of doing stand-up comedy at the outlet. There were a lot of shoppers in the area of the store where Harris seemed to be flirting with me.
I told him I was divorced, one and done, and programmed not to listen to him. Another shopper recognized my voice, and Harris was off to the races: He has a beef with the Star Tribune.
“It’ll be 50 years 2016. You write up people who just started two weeks ago. They write up people in the business section. I don’t understand it. Never us. Where’s the arithmetic? I was going to call [Glen] Taylor and tell him. I don’t understand why they didn’t do anything on us. This is the biggest fabric store in the country,” said Harris.
“Yeah. People come from all the world, Chicago. Why don’t we have a place like this?”
Harris doesn’t like being called S.R. — he prefers Sid — and gets a little offended that people buy his material to cover tables. He informed me, “I’ve got a Jewish mouth, do you understand?”
That’s a new expression — can I write that?
“You can say anything you want,” he said. “Because everybody who knows me knows what I have. It’s no secret. I don’t hide it.”
That means Arlene Harris, his wife since 1956, has had an interesting life.
Harris shows me a photo of his wife from the 1950s, I think. “She still looks the same. She works out all the time,” he said, adding a boldfaced lie with a smile: “I don’t even like her.”
I am starting to think that naming your kid Sid turns them into characters.
As for his personality, Harris explained, “I do that everyday. It’s not [just] today.”
I was in the market for sports bra material. “Come with me,” said Harris, who knows every inch of this enormous space. “I’ve got lots of stuff. Is this enough stretch or do you want more?” he asked, proffering me some material. I wanted something more breathable.
“You see those bags?” said Harris. “All Nike. ALL NIKE!” There was a mother lode.
Harris’ patter changes like the scenery as you walk through the outlet, and I helped.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve seen here?
“From WCCO, what’s that husband and wife … Frank and what’s his wife?”
People more famous than Frank Vascellaro and Amelia Santaniello, please.
“Let me think. People from the theater. They bring in directors all the time from New York. I don’t [remember names]. I won’t remember your name tomorrow.”
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened