One man discovers this strange shop in a basement. He enter it and buys a wonderful television at an unbelievably low price. The shop does not accept cash. To pay, you deposit money in their bank savings account.

Obviously the shop is in the future. They get paid enough due to compound interest on the money deposited in the savings account.

The people in the basement cannot leave the shop. They also ask their customers to bring in old newspapers for them. Valuable antiques in their time.

The protagonist and his friend are both interested in the same young lady. He notices that the shopkeeper in the future looks a lot like his friend.

He buys a fancy suit from the future shop. They tailor it to current fashions as he requests. He takes the lady out on a date, impresses her and eventually they get married.

He wears his fancy future suit to his wedding. In the middle of the ceremony it disappears. He is embarrassed and has to borrow a suit of clothes from the priest but otherwise the wedding goes well. When he goes back,there is no shop in the basement.

In the original timeline, his friend had married the young lady and the man who opened the shop that had customers from the past was their descendant.

I read this story after 2010. From the attitudes to marriage and television, I suspect it was written some decades earlier.

1 Answer 1


I found it by reading the titles on the science fiction bookshelf on Project Gutenberg.

It is Bargain Basement By Charles L. Fontenay

The people living in the future and running the shop cannot leave it.

"My communications man thinks he can fix your comm—television set so it will be all right, if you can bring us a technical manual on television sets. I hate to ask you to go to such trouble—"

"What! You mean you've got a television repairman who doesn't have a manual on the things?"

"Not on the type you need," said the clerk apologetically. "It wouldn't matter what brand or trade name the manual applies to."

"Why can't you have your communications man go out and buy his own?" demanded Ken. "Or order one?"

"Well—let's just say it would cause great inconvenience at this time. Mr. Hanshaw, I realize it would inconvenience you also, so in return for the favor I will be willing to give you, free, any item of merchandise in the store."

They only accept payment deposited in a bank account.

"Oh, no, sir. Not the cash. Deposit it in the account, please, and bring me the deposit slip. Mr. Hanshaw knows the bank."

The people in the present work out what is going on with the future shop.

"Why would people from the future want to set up a store in the basement under the Eat-A-Bite Restaurant?" protested Jack.

"Not from the future—in the future. For some reason, that basement door is in a time fault. People from now can go through it into the future and come back, and bring inanimate objects with them. But the people from the future can't come back to the past for some reason—that's why they can't go out and get things themselves, and that's why they want us to bring them rare antiques, like newspapers and books."

There is a very unethical part I had forgotten. The protagonist uses chewing gum laced with a drug from the future shop to persuade Lorene to marry him!

The man's suit from the future disappears in the middle of his wedding ceremony.

Their wedding was a peculiar one—as the minister pronounced them man and wife, Jack's clothing vanished. He was kissing his bride when a sudden chill and the gasps of those around him made him realize he was in his underwear.

He has to borrow clothes from the priest.

He borrowed a suit from the minister and took Lorene back to the apartment.

The basement shop disappears because in the new timeline Edigo who founded the business was never born.

He didn't tell her the rest. He didn't tell her he was almost sure that, the way things would have been, Lorene and Ken would have been married and Edigo would have been their descendant.

But Edigo had changed all that when he sold Jack a drug that Jack used, to make sure that Ken wouldn't marry Lorene, but that he would instead. And since Ken and Lorene wouldn't be married now, Edigo would never be born, and would never have the idea of building a fifty-story building at that spot, starting it by digging a basement.

So that was what happened to the suit and Ken's car and the television set. Since the basement wasn't to be built there, they wouldn't be, so they weren't—they never had been.

  • 1
    I guessed that those quoted sections were supposed to be together as a single quote. It used to be that the system automatically joined them together, but there was a modification a few years back.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Apr 19 at 12:11
  • 1
    You were correct @FuzzyBoots Commented Apr 19 at 12:37
  • 1
    35" TV only 6" thick? Boy, he nailed flat screens! Of course, you'd be hard pressed to carry that under one arm, especially once packed into a box, but... we'll let that one slide.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 19 at 12:58
  • You should accept your self-answer.
    – user14111
    Commented May 5 at 7:44
  • Okay, thanks.I will accept it. Commented May 8 at 14:55

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