Stepping in to fill the void below Smoke's left by Fingers, Wings, and Things is Milan Marvelous: artist, musician, certified prosthesist, with his new store The Marvelous, selling all sorts of books, music and comic books. Street caught up with him the day after his store's unofficial opening.
What made you decide to start the store?
Well, I've lived in the neighborhood for five or six years, and I've been an artist and a musician, and I've always been a big record store fan, and comic book store fan. I've just always been confused and amazed that the neighborhood didn't have a functioning network for the local artists, that there was no functioning comic book store in the neighborhood. 'Cause if you go around the country, if you go to Boston, you go to Columbus, Ohio, to New Jersey, they've got all sorts of great places where you can browse through old records and comic books, and you've got a knowledgeable staff that really cares about the music and really supports independent artists. And here, in this neighborhood, I wasn't able to find that. You know, there are no comic book stores west of the Schuykill, and the two comic book stores in town that I know of, they're good comic book stores, but in my opinion, they shortchange to the independent comics which... if you go to stores in New York or Boston, you'd be amazed at the selection they have.
What's the idea behind the d‚cor?
No idea. That should be apparent. It's just a reflection of what I think looks good. And now I'm looking for what people think, because I don't see it anymore. So someone new coming in might be offended or pleased or think it's quaint or tacky, I don't know. What do you think?
I like it. You've got that whole basement record store thing going on.
I pulled that off, right?
Yeah, you did... What were you doing before this?
Making artificial limbs. Certified prosthesist. Which is kind of a medical, professional, kind of like a chiropractor. I was a licensed professional CP, number 2068, I think.
How did you decide what kind of music to carry?
Well, I'm not real interested in... I don't really listen to the radio very much. I'm not a big fan of the corporate... the radio. So I'm basically trying to play things which are good, trying to carry actual good music. And that for me is handcrafted, artist-driven, selections. Whether it's bluegrass, or electronic, or Brit-pop. Everything from hip hop to be-bop, to doo-wop, to Brit-pop, funk, and punk, and other junk type music. It's also determined to some extent by what's released on vinyl. Because new vinyl is released by one percent of bands. 80 percent, 90 percent of new vinyl is released by independent labels. The major labels have just abandoned it and switched to CDs. So basically my focus is on the three percent of bands on independent labels.
Does it concern you that you're going to be cutting out the pop market?
Not so much. I mean, I want to be informed about what I'm selling to help people find good stuff. So when I'm ignorant of the pop, then I'm not going to be too much help. So when it comes time to place my order, and I say, "Should I buy Eazy-E, should I buy 50 Cent, or should I buy Eminem?" I won't know what's good. And I only want to have good music. So I'm just shooting fish in a barrel, I might end up getting stuff that never sells and I don't want to listen to it. So the stuff that doesn't sell, at least I like to listen to it, if I'm stuck with it in the end.
So is this store as much for you as for the customers?
Oh, god, yeah. I desperately need to sell everything. But on the other hand, I don't want to sell anything. I'd hate to see anything go out the door because I love it so much. Especially the comics and some of the records, I'm like, "Oh, my God! That's my only copy of that"