Only one store in the Square sells everything from white ceramic candle holders and ice scrapers to chocolate Pop Tarts and toilet bowl cleaner. That is, only one store does it all night long: Store 24.
The fluorescent-lit one-stop shopping center on Mass. Ave. is a haven for students pulling all nighters, returning from late-night dates, or suffering from an unexpected attack of the munchies.
"Store 24 makes it easy to pull all-nighters," said Ken Goldsmith '86-87, who has frequented the store for over three years.
Goldsmith, who dropped in at the late-night haven after returning from a date at 2:30 a.m., said that he planned to stock up before writing a paper due at noon the next day.
Cranberry juice, Reese's cups and mineral water are the choices of Jane L. Boyee '89, who makes a habit of going to Store 24 twice a night--once at 11:30 p.m. and again at 2 a.m.. "Going out in the cold wakes me up," said the Massachusetts Hall resident.
"I go for the mass quantity and low quality," said Jeffrey C. Yang '89, who came to Store 24 from his room in Grays while taking a break from "Late Night with David Letterman."
Yang was miffed that Store 24 is the only store in the Square open after 1 a.m., and said he usually settled for a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter.
P.A. Weiner '88 faced a crisis when he ran out of typing paper while writing for his next day's tutorial. But a quick dash to the store solved his dilemma.
That was also the case with Susane Y. Eu '89. "I have to write it tonight," Eu said.
"I'm reading a poem similar to Old Man and the Sea," said Tom Malone '87 as he leafed through some of the Cliff's Notes which Store 24 has recently started to stock. "And now that I know these are here," he said of the student aids, "I'll frequent the store and browse through them."
"I put off my shopping until late at night, so I have to shop here," said Canaday resident Dave J. Thornton '89.
A sign stretching over three walls of the store reads, "We've got soda & juice & ice cream & frozen foods & eggs & butter & milk & cheese & yogurt & more..." But, while the sign gives the impression that the store stocks mostly foods with fewer than 50 ingredients, the extensive variety of its merchandise tells a different story.
In the refrigerated section, there are four shelves of two brands of yogurt, three for cheese, and one each for butter and eggs.
Perpendicular to that section, though, is what might be termed the "aisle of doom," which includes 10 brands of ice cream and frozen yogurt, 61 types of ice cream sandwiches, and 15 varieties of potato and corn chips.
The store also carries 13 flavors of tea, three brands of mustard, and 12 kinds of chewing gum, not to mention the wide selection of cookies, cakes, and candies.
"It's a junk food store," said one observer, who asked to be called "a local chess player."
"People are coming here and buying a lot of fun foods. Fortunately, Harvard has one of the best dorm food systems in the country," he added.
Referring to the overhead sign, the chess player noted that "That's merely stupidity on the part of the designers."
But the people who designed Store 24 aren't the same ones who have to deal with the hordes of customers who jam the place each night.
All three of Wednesday night's employees chose the "third shift," from midnight to 8 a.m..
Amy G. Madanick opted for the third shift because she works as a cook at the Marriot Long Wharf from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.. "This is just for a while, until I get my debts straightened out," she said.
Madanick's first night at Store 24 was Wednesday, and all went smoothly with the possible exception of selling condoms. "I blushed a little bit," she said. "I had never sold them before--it was a first experience."
"One guy was a little embarrassed too, although I think another sent his girlfriend to come get them," Madanick said.
While none of Wednesday night's employees had any dangerous or threatening experiences at the store-to relate, a former employee who stopped in for some dried fruit mix at 1:45 a.m. did remember one of his last nights at the store.
Jim, who said he worked at Store 24 "six or seven years ago" and who currently works in the area, said, "Someone walked in and said, 'Give me all your money or I'm going to blow your fucking brains out!'
"I gave him the money and offered to get him a cab. I said, 'Hey, I'm only doing this part time and I'm getting $4 an hour, so don't kill me.'"
Jim said the store is great for thieves, who "go up and down the aisles and pilfer all they want to eat."
"Watch them," he added, "they go up aisle one and eat, down aisle two and eat, then go up aisle three eating, and buy an orange and leave."
Geoffrey Worrell, a former San Francisco English teacher who has been working at Store 24 for two months, said that the store's combination of small aisles, large numbers of customers and few employees make shoplifting easy. He added that he hasn't yet caught anybody.
But the small aistes will continue to attract large numbers of customers, beacuse Store 24 remains the place to go for late night papers, late night munchies, or just a little fresh air--no place in the Square offers so much so late.
Besides, said John M. Yardley '88, "The soda machines in Winthrop House always run out.