Close Encounters of the Trader Fred’s Kind

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Unexplainable prices sighted at Trader Fred’s

by Nick Macksood

I left Trader Fred’s with an adventure book lined with vintage NSA foibles, an Arturo Fuente cigar, a pair of designer shorts, an original photo of Hunter Thompson’s ashes on my iPhone, and a boogie board. It was, like, forty dollars.

Men in the business of discount clothing and goods are typically in everything. But “Trader” Fred Mascolo takes the concept of everything and sends it blistering down a mountaintop full throttle in a runaway 18-wheeler semi. A cursory walk through his Edgartown location will make your head spin, it’s so revealing. Inside the tiny building just across from the Post Office Square on Edgartown/Vineyard Haven road, anything could happen. Fred showed me around the place and there was a movie star sitting on the deck who threatened my kneecaps if I revealed his name. Let’s just say his photo is hanging on the walls inside.

But what is more interesting than Mascolo’s life of Riley is what is actually in his store. Trader Fred’s is a veritable Pandora’s box of goods. Everything that time has ever done–and undone–lies under the roof of Trader Fred’s. The only things separating Fred’s from a Moroccan souq or a postmodernist’s interpretation of consumerism are the price tags listed underneath all the items.

And, God, are they inexpensive. You could fill an entire closet with just one C-note. Men’s designer jeans and shorts for $16.99. Brand name shirts for the same price. Hell, Fred’s stock of women’s dresses looked so good I almost took a couple home for $19 a piece. He had the world’s most comfortable pair of walking shoes, boots and sandals priced at $69.99. I’m talking about “Shmerrel”, you know? The American footwear company? Women’s sandals at rock bottom prices. $8 Martha’s Vineyard sweaters. These are third-world prices we’re talking about.

Just as impressive was the room loaded with fishing gear. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling, this section of Fred’s was inundated with quality fishing rods, nets, lures, wire, line, tackle. The amount of equipment a 20-dollar bill would buy you in this room could sink a boat. Just tell him what you’re looking for. Want to catch a shark? Fred’s got a few different hooks and set-ups for you. If shark isn’t your game, try and top the record for striped bass–Fred’s sells the very same lure and tackle used to haul in the current world record holder.

Fred’s also specializes in outdoor supplies and beach paraphernalia. Coolers, radios, cooler-radios, beach towels, umbrellas and chairs all at cost. Fred’s has sunscreen and boogie boards, pool toys and water shoes for the island’s rockier beaches, too.

And it should be noted–no, featured–that Trader Fred’s is an authorized dealer of Arturo Fuente and Opus X cigars. Enter the rich smelling humidor behind the counter and you’ll find dozens upon dozens of different cigar boxes heaped six feet high, all at rock bottom prices. It’s no secret that Fred’s collection beats the tar out of anyone else’s cigar game, but that doesn’t make this freeloading journalist any less guilty for revealing Fred’s secret stash. Try to understand, a $50 Opus X for less than half that much would leave any guy wishing nobody finds his special connect.

If you thought Stop and Shop was the place for bargain buys on the island, get a life. Nothing else on this island even comes close to Trader Fred’s. It’s the store with everything for everyone. Which is nice. Nice for the visitors who forgot to pack their sunscreen, nice for the summer workforce who couldn’t bring their fishing pole along with them, and nice for the locals who have a store where comfortable bedding doesn’t cost $250.

A dollar goes a long ways at Fred’s. The only problem now is how you’re going to fit all that new stuff in your suitcase.

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