Hosting Monster Market in Crosstown Concourse was a dream— the traffic was good, there were bathrooms (a very important upgrade from 2017’s location), and a half dozen good restaurants in the building. But for every perk, there was one big con, and it looked like this:
That’s the space (above) as I saw it on my first walkthrough— which by luck happened to be on my 30th birthday. It was dirty, being used as free storage by Cedar the Beater, without walls, and without electricity. Upon request, I had two outlets installed. These would power my entire store for the duration of my two month lease. Somehow, this felt like a victory, but there was so much more work ahead of us.
Scared to death of not being able to pull this off in time, I start as early as humanly possible. I get the keys in mid-September and start wrangling this beautiful handmade display furniture recently disposed of in the closing of the Bikesmith.
By now, Cedar (local wife-beating shitbag artist) has moved into the free studio he’s mooching off of Crosstown to the right, so you can see the backside of his drywall. In the back, he had large panels of wood leaned against the studs implying some kind of wall, but after catching him sneaking more than once, I quickly learned he just wanted them to look like a barrier.
The focus of my floor plan is to section off the space with a dividing wall, creating a hidden back area for storage, staging, and hiding a projector. Local set builder and old friend Shea Colburn comes to help me for a few days, literally bringing a wall with him. It came with a window originally.
At my request, Shea covers over the window, and my friend/talented local screenprinter Will Loren comes by and paints the whole thing yellow for me. Inspired by a show I saw in the gallery upstairs with images projected on the backside of visqueen, I ask Shea to build me a massive projector screen, and he somehow already has one of those on hand too. He and my brother Kiefer screw up sheets of MDF into the studs to create walls, and we begin hanging sturdy brown paper over the exposed plastic up top.
At this point I’ve spent literally all week scrubbing the rat turds and petrified dust off of these ancient shelves from Crosstown Concourse storage (because they didn’t want to let me use anything new) and painting them primer matte white. I have only accidentally given myself paint fume poisoning one time in the process! But this part has taken a lot longer than I’d anticipated. Here we are only a few days from opening and it’s just beginning to come together.
We temporarily disconnect and cap the back 6 flourescent fixtures so the light won’t interfere with the projections. I say we, but I don’t do ladders and I know shit-all about electrical work, so I just watched. This really cuts down on the light in the space, but it’s exactly the look I’m going for. The front half is still illuminated by the tubes, but the back is a bit dimmer.
This is the home stretch here! Just days away from opening, my close friend/display master Reagan Crow comes to the rescue, and helps me organize a thousand or so items into meaningful sections around the store. We settle on something like Goth/Metal/Witchcraft, Creature/Critter/SciFi, Natural/Bones/Mystical, and Feminine/Feminist/Gender-Related. There also ended up being a vintage corner with costume pieces, a cosplay section with tooled leather masks and jewelry, and a t-shirt wall featuring designs from a dozen makers. The middle section currently only has a naked mannequin, but soon we’ll fill this with the fast-selling items like stickers and enamel pins.
And here it is in action! This shot is from the Grand Opening, which always ends up being our largest, craziest, and most well-attended event. The shop is full of patrons and makers, I’m back there behind the register talking to an artist, and I think that’s Poltergeist playing on the projection screen above me.
And here it is near the end of the month. Somewhere in there, I made the time to project and hand paint some lettering on the yellow wall. The big displays stayed the same over the month, but the smaller items have been rearranged a hundred times by this point. I’ve had to borrow the mannequin’s wig, and apparently I’m having trouble keeping this front easel stocked. I think someone had just bought the little Eddie Munster painting moments before!
Was it a lot of work? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes! I was only able to take on something this big with the help of my friends, who allowed me to cobble together their various expertise into a comprehensive effort. That’s the only way big stuff gets done. As much as I wanted to do everything when it comes to Monster Market, I physically can’t! And I’m thankful for that, because it’s a lot more fun sharing this dream with a staff of weirdos.