Mark Frauenfelder at 4:06 pm Tue, Jul 12, 2011
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Randy Regier's NuPenny Store in Wichita, KS is not opening today. In fact, it will never open.
More photos after the jump.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His latest book is Made by Hand: My Adventures in the World of DIY
MORE: Art and Design
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Two things – I fly to Saulte Ste Marie, ON about 10 times a season to cover hockey games, and there is a radio repair shop near the rink that I’ve been meaning to visit for the past year, but the hours of operation are so impossible, all I can do is stand outside the locked doors and stare at the eye candy that is in the display windows. Ancient tube gear, some real museum quality stuff, 60′s and 70′s tape gear, amps, this & that.. real classics.. Someday I’ll get inside.
2nd thing – Is there a film you can place on a window to knock the chroma down? All the stuff in the NuPenny shop is painted gray, but I wonder if you can get that effect by means of some window film or lighting technique?
“2nd thing – Is there a film you can place on a window to knock the chroma down? All the stuff in the NuPenny shop is painted gray, but I wonder if you can get that effect by means of some window film or lighting technique?”
As a lighting designer the answer is that there is no filter to eliminate color. You can filter out selective colors but not all of them.
Ceci n’est pas un magasin.
Funny idea. One day, Fifth Ave.
This reminded me of a short story called “The Weapon Shop” by A.E. Van Vogt. The store appears when it’s needed, and quietly disappears when it’s work is done.
Your camera’s busted. It can’t record colors through glass.
What am I missing? I feel like this is a “When you see it…bricks will be shat” montage that I just dont get.
Beautiful. Mock capitalism in the spaces that capitalism forsakes. Good for the humans.
Why does it have a door?
Doors are used to enter and exit buildings.
Doors are used to enter and exit buildings
But can a door that never opens be truly called a “door?” If it presents an opportunity that can never be realized, how is it any different than a wall that mocks your expectations?
Well, presumably they used the door to get inside to create the installation.
But a door that does open is called ajar.
Good morning, you have woken up to capitalist system. Now let’s circumvent it!
Hallelujah! The days of my “Dukes of Hazzard” lifestyle are over!
Follow the link to learn the secret:
Ha! This is great!
Built entirely to foment an unscratchable itch of WANT.
Dig the website, delt664, then drop your masonry into the porcelain.
from the about us page.
NuPenny exists as a traveling art installation under the guise of an inaccessible toy store.
Dammit, Frauenfelder, now I’ll never live without being able to whisper goodnight to that mummy speedboat rocket poised on the safety of mine own mantelpiece. Thanks a LOT.
When you go from:
“NuPenny exists as a traveling art installation under the guise of an inaccessible toy store…”
“The toys are indeed for sale.”
…methinks you may have undercut your ArtSpeak a bit.
you may have undercut your ArtSpeak a bit.
Yeah, but maybe it’s more important that the passersby fogging up the store windows are the targets. Doesn’t look like there’s any indication at the store itself how to lay one’s mitts on the droolworthy gems inside without lobbing a cinderblock.
Anyway, how would one finance the storefront rental, electrical bills, and associated overhead without monetizing this thing somehow or other?
ArtSpeak is made to be undercut.
It pays for itself in the frustration, awe, and puzzlement of passers-by.
Certain alien life forms pay a lot for those emotions.
* * *
The Store Locations page on the NuPenny site is way out of date.
You’re right about all of that.
Was kind of funny to read though.
MY ART IS ABOUT YOU CANNOT HAS
YOU CAN HAS
The utilities and rental are donated. It’s not as if it is in a high-rent district — there’s an apparently abandoned building next to it.
While there are not, by coastal standards, really any high-rent areas of Wichita, it’s actually in an area that is in the process of revitalizing. The windows papered over to the right are papered because there is a fancy tea shop going in. Next to that is the Donut Whole (http://thedonutwhole.com) and across from the more-tony-than-it-sounds Tanya’s Soup Kitchen (http://www.tanyassoupkitchen.com). And, of course, it is actually in a space that has been an art gallery for years.
“NuPenny Store in Wichita is never open”… Wait, why I am reading The Onion newsfeed while supposed to read Boingboing ?
We need Admiral Akbar’s thoughts on this.
There used to be that Needful Things store in my town, with a proprietor who looked oddly like Stephen King…
I totally have been in that store and shopped at it many times. You just have to know the right people. Clearly you all don’t.
The whole “art instillation thing?” that’s what we tell people who aren’t part of the in crowd. BTW, just telling you this gets me kicked out of the in crowd. If you asked the people who run this store they will use the whole, “we are an art installation” bit. If you tell them you know that this is just a really really exclusive store they will also deny it. If you tell them you heard from someone who got into the story and brought stuff they will say I’m lying.
I America today if you desire something enough, you can get it–as long as you have enough money.
I read this post almost 16 hours before writing this comment, and I still cannot say anything that can be expressed with words only. This work gives me a very comforting feeling, and now I realize NuPenny might be the materialization of some of my dreams, the only difference being that in my dream I would be inside the store. And the fact in real life I can only see it from the outside would make me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I remember when I was a kid, my mom used to go to the market and I was always attracted from the colorful plastic toys hanging from huge umbrellas. But my mom wouldn’t buy them for me, so after a while I had to close my eyes or look at my shoes. Now I find myself dreaming of having things I never had, doing things I never did in my childhood, even the most basic things that I was implicitly denied. Then, when I wake up, I realize I’m a grown man and cannot do what children do anymore.
I used to make things out of cardboard box when I was little. I even made a desk/house, full of lights, holes and little drawers. I used to play with it all the time. Then one evening, I destroyed it, I still don’t know why… maybe because I already knew there was a whole world out there out of the kitchen window, and I shouldn’t have spent a second more inside that cardboard box. But I’m sure that was a product of my dreams, and as a child I wasn’t really aware of the difference between dreams and real life. I’m aware now, maybe that’s why the NuPenny store intrigues me so much. It’s about my personal experience. I would love to see it in person, to see what it really feels like to have a piece of glass between me and a reality that doesn’t seem so distant when I close my eyes. More than anything, I wouldn’t like to buy one of those toys, I just would like to be inside the store. Just that.
More than anything, I wouldn’t like to buy one of those toys, I just would like to be inside the store. Just that.
I have known more than a few cool toy and antique stores like this and what you describe is 100% the problem: People come in, gawk, maybe take some photos and leave. If you genuinely like stores like this you need to give them business. And in my case if I canâ€™t find something I likeâ€”but I know has value anywayâ€”I buy it, then flip it on eBay. The store gets the sale, I get the money back.
O.K. Kekko. You win. I want to GIVE you the store. Dammit all anyway.
To speak to desire for things not attainable, just out of reach:
When I was about 9 or 10 we visited an artist’s home in Silverton, Oregon. A man by the name of Doug Tope – I think. He had a toy locomotive on the fireplace mantle. I was certain that if I stared at it for the entire evening he would certainly realize that I, of all the people in the world, should own it. Didn’t happen, and I never was able to get a toy train. I tried to build them as a child, one after another, but they all looked more like wheeled wooden turds than the locomotive on the mantle out of reach.
Fast forward 30 years and I hear Coleman Barkes read his interpretation of the Rumi poem “Love Dogs” on NPR. I started crying so hard I had to pull off the Kansas interstate and park. What I came to believe -or understand about myself – in that moment is what we desire IS desire.
â€œThis longing you express â€¨is the return message.â€
Damn, I can’t believe I’m laying this all out here of all places, but there it is.
When I was a kid there was a toyshop exactly like this at the end of my street. And when I say ‘just like this’ I mean ‘just like this.’ Throughout my childhood I was never able to enter the shop and buy any of the toys I so desperately coveted.
Maybe if someone had told me it was an art installation I would have been a little less heartbroken.
I had the exact same experience in Salem, Oregon as a kid. Elmer’s Hobby on Market Street. Precariously towering stacks of model kits and toys, Elmer’s head barely poking over the counter top, but he never gave me the time of day, it was clear – even to my 11 year old mind – that he really didn’t want to sell anything. If you were interested in something on the bottom of a stack particularly – forget about it. I never had any money, I would just stand inside in wonderment until my mom would pick me up outside. When he died collector carnivores from surrounding states descended upon the site in a frenzy and stripped that building clean in hours, gone, just like that.
That’s why I made this.
Every time I’ve seen a post on one of these installations I think it would be nice there should be a clerk in the store once in a while. One pale person by himself eating a sandwich and coffee for lunch or dinner, with a sign on the door “closed for Lunch”. Then after lunch the person would be gone and the store would still be closed. That’s been my experience with places like Elmer’s, they are living their life in the store and your just a distraction.
” That’s been my experience with places like Elmer’s, they are living their life in the store and your just a distraction.”
some people grade an axis of artistic accomplishment on the necessity of asking these sorts of questions, so in that sense its a win… eh.
I can remember a hobby store in the mid-to-late-1970s in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Howard’s Hobby shop, that seemed to be run by the widow of the guy who ran it originally, and it was full of strange backstock that had been discontinued in the late 1960s or early 1970s, so even when I was seeing it as a kid, it was sort of the hobby store that time forgot. Full of the type of inventory that now goes for amazing prices on eBay. Spaceship and Aurora Monster Scenes and Gigantics giant insects attacking cityscapes model diorama kits and such.
It was open, but it had a similar effect on me. I saw it at an age where I didn’t really have my own money, and I’d probably be tagging along with my older brother who was more into actually building models than I was (or visiting it with a friend, driven there by his mom), So actually buying the stuff wasn’t really an option for me, it was sort of a (as my friend describes her experience of looking through the Sears Christmas Wishbook as a kid) toy porn experience.
I didn’t really have the concept that the stock in this store wouldn’t be replenished forever; that one day I might walk into the store and no longer be able to find those kits (or that the store would one day close).
In reality, if, say, my parents had bought these model kits for me, they may well have gathered dust in my closet, never built, because I just wasn’t that into building models. But now I occasionally wander eBay looking for them. But I still don’t buy, because I still probably would never get around to building ‘em!
Well, there is now an article in the local online paper.
A few years ago there was a hobby shop near me that was never open.
The sign on the door listed the hours it was theoretically open, something like 11:45 to 1:30 on Tuesdays, but even when I tried to get there in that tiny window it was never actually open.
It was like someone had taken the hobby shop of my dreams and sealed it up about 10 years before I ever laid eyes on it. There was an awesome collection of Sci-fi kits in the front window sitting there, yellowing in the sun, collecting dust. Battlestar Galactica, Space:1999, Star Wars, Aliens, classic Trek, awesome stuff.
Then one day I was walking by and it was gone – just gone. No sign, nothing in the store, no stickers on the window advertising impossible to get to hours. I still feel like maybe the store was actually a hallucination, something dredged up from the desires of my 12 year old self.
This is like a hipster replica of that store.
I assume stores like that are fronts for money laundering or mob hang outs. There was a medical supply store in my neighborhood that was never open the signs and the equipment was faded and broken, I think that it was some kind of requirement that they have a physical location to do their medical insurance scams.
Theres an RCA/Zenith TV repair store in my hometown that’s always made me suspicious, mores in recent years. The lSt time they updated their store window was to announce that they also service VCRs. I can’t fathom how they’re still in business.
Obviously they’re still in business by fixing everyone’s VCR’s. Nobody else can do it so they charge three grand.
Two streets from where I grew up there’s a meet-up of these two places: a TV repair shop directly across from what used to be a vacuum repair shop and barber shop that is now just Zag’s A SHOP. Zag’s A SHOP never opened, but the TV repair place updated (to board up the windows) about the same time it moved in.
Truthfully, it’s because of creepy places like that that make me so wary of local shops.
Is this MARS PRODUCTS?
Finally got around to reading this story by Fast.
Thanks. Fantastic. Amazing resonance.
Anyone know the address in Wichita?
1714 E. Douglas Ave.
It is almost right downtown in Wichita, on Douglas, in the first block east of Hydraulic. Been there a couple of times. Very neat exhibit. The monochromatic and chrome theme is complete, and the pieces are awesome.
Great donut bakery one door down, a delectable sandwich/soup shop across the street, and antique cars parked in the second-floor window of the insurance agency on its corner. It’s an old brick part of town, but not abandoned. It’s in the corridor known as the Douglas Design District, which is home design/decor/furniture/hardware, bars/restaurants/chocolate/ice cream/liquor, tattoos/pipes, theater/specialty shops. Nice little area. Five Guys is building a burger shop at the downtown end, on the site of an old car lot. A barbeque shop opened at the east end, across the street from a unique, historical building owned by Kirstie Alley, who has homes a couple more blocks up the hill.
For those who have never heard of Wichita, it’s the largest town in Kansas, around 400,000, almost exactly in the center of the country.
Approximately 1716 E. Douglas, near The Donut Whole.
When is a door not a door?
When it’s ajar.
I’d kind of like to see this store positioned next to Ed’s Martian Book Bookstore:
Gag art. Whoop – De – Doo
Another trust fund kiddee with way more time than talent. It’s a toy store thats never open, get it, get it? Insert fingers down throat, spew.
At least if it was a miniature there might be some crafting skills involved, but this is pretty much my grand-dads HO train kit bash creations at 1 – 1 scale.
I didn’t know what a trust fund was until I moved to the east coast a few years ago and met people with mysterious and invisible means of support, I finally had to ask – how?
My dad was a farmer, auto body man and a minister, and my mom, at 69, still works for a book binder.
I’m 47 and have worked almost every single day of my life since the age of 13, at body shops and furniture stores, etc., always with my hands, usually with my mind attached. Sometimes less, sometimes more.
Regarding the toys here, there are no vintage toy parts used or sourced in this work, anywhere. No exceptions.
I don’t generally respond to e-epithets cast carelessly, this is a free speech zone and you have every right, but if you’re going to call me a ‘trust fund kiddee” come to Wichita and say it to my face. Then we’d get past it and I’ll buy you an amazing donut next door.
Just a few thoughts.
As another person who has been working since they were 13, I am constantly torn between my frustration with people who don’t have to, and my frustration with people who think that people who have to work can’t ever do anything that’s just a little frivolous.
I see no difference between this and my Great Grandpa Frank’s collection of posed, shellacked dead frogs. It was a very trust fundy hipster thing to be into, for an old farmer from Troy, Kansas.
Let me introduce you to the Comment Policy.
If the bulk of your comments are whining, hostile, insulting or otherwise annoying, you may be banned.
You are, frankly, teetering on the brink of the abyss.
When are they selling Gabriel Hounds?
you can’t just buy Gabriel Hounds in a ‘store’… you have to know someone… and they’re kind of exclusive and really, really expensive… you probably can’t afford them anyway.
“Finally, the slogan â€œI Love You,â€ on the exterior NuPenny sign, is quoted from the poem Prayer In The Strip Mall, Bangor, Maine by the poet Stuart Kestenbaum.”
Why yes, I recognized it immediately.
[It's ART, Dammit.]
The toys are indeed for sale.”
Is it related to Danny the Street?
Art that requires a separate explanation has failed its purpose.
Pretty much in agreement. But the trend of â€œhipster storesâ€ wonâ€™t end. Seems to have started with Dave Eggers and the â€œMcSweeneyâ€™s Storeâ€ on 7th Avenue in Park Slope that eventually morphed into the â€œBrooklyn Superhero Supply Companyâ€ on 5th Avenue in Park Slope.
The economics of nowadays dictates that cool toy and hobby stores are dead and gone, but Iâ€™d appreciate a real one popping up.
Also, yrarbil cilbup’s comment kind of makes me want to build a model train town at 1-1 scale.
“Is … is that tree made out of a giant sponge?”
That would be a lot of fun to implement! :-)
I moved to a small town in the late 70s. There was a tiny novelty shop located downtown, run by a young man who inherited the space from his parents. He wasnâ€™t much of a businessman.
Not long after I had arrived, he shuttered the whole shop and taped up paper all over the display windows. But he never relinquished ownership of that prime downtown real estate.
Years went by and the shop became a mysterious time capsule, frozen in the moment he closed it. The display paper began to decay slightly and a small tear here and there revealed that the shopâ€™s stock was still waiting patiently in place. One night, I had a dream that I was admitted into the shop and found it to be full of perfectly preserved treasures.
After nearly ten years had passed, the value of the real estate became too great to ignore. The shop owner decided to throw open his doors and empty the place out. I heard the news and ran downtown to check it out.
The shop was a perfect time capsule all right â€“ a perfect time capsule of late 1970s American Mall novelties/Johnny-come-lately hippie pop culture ephemera. â€œHang in There Babyâ€ posters and â€œLove Isâ€¦â€ stickers and black light doodads. Everything there was hideously bland or blandly hideous. It was like opening a treasure chest filled with plasticized â€œwoodâ€ paneling intended for basement â€œrec roomsâ€.
If someone could capture the essential nausea and disappointment I felt that day in the form of an art installation, I would be greatly impressed.
When I saw this on BB I had to drag my fiance along to go see it last night – pictures don’t really do it that much justice :-) There’s a lot of little details worth checking out. For instance, inside the store there is no text – it’s all in “tickertape code”, which adds to the very alien feel of the place. I can’t say it’s something I’d sit and stare at for hours, but it’s a really cool spot to drive by once to check out :-) I threw 20 pictures of it on my site http://www.midnightryder.org/2011/07/nupenny-wichita-kansas/ :-)
One added interesting bit: about three doors to the west is an old key shop. Somehow when looking at the whole series of store fronts, NuPenny fits in because of that. :-)
Obviously artistic plagiarism; this was done by Urban Outfitters almost a year ago.
This BB post: http://boingboing.net/2010/08/12/urban-outfitters-con.html
I rarely forget most of the BB posts, even some from a year ago.
By Golly, you’re right! This is just like a working corporate retail chain which has a retro facade.
I’ve heard/seen this before. I didn’t realized it traveled. Neat – my parents live just outside of Wichita.
During the crash in the 80′s, Albion, MI,a small college town, lost most of the businesses in downtown. The city council painted the plywood covering the windows and doors with scenes of people inside the businesses.
Wow. Amazing, creepy and somehow cool, and creepy. This is a great anecdote. thanks.
Looks like it is beside the Donut Whole at 1720 E. Douglas. Just what I need, another reason to eat donuts.
There’s an Asian restaurant here in Dingburg that hasn’t been open in more than 10 years. Glasses neatly stacked. Waiting.
I really enjoyed meeting Randy and doing this story: http://blogs.kansas.com/haveyouheard/2011/07/13/how-to-succeed-in-business-without-really-opening-nupenny-on-east-douglas-is-the-ultimate-in-window-shopping/
Needs a “Back in 15 minutes” sign.
Anybody know where this store is actually located in Wichita? I live here and would really enjoy seeing it in person.
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