I thought that I would write a little about my history. I was raised in Winnetka, Illinois, for any Jazz enthusiasts, there is an old song called, Big Noise From Winnetka. Winnetka is a nice little suburb of Chicago, along Lake Michigan. When I was a kid it was a mix of blue collar and white collar families. Now, it is strictly white collar. When I got finished with my mandatory military service around 1963, I started a little head shop with a close friend. The name of this shop was Spectacle. We moved this shop to a better, more high traffic town called Evanston, where Northwestern University is located. We had literally started the shop with about $1000 bucks or maybe less. We sold the usual pipes and papers and black light posters and incense. It was a lot of fun but we did not make much money. About 2 years later, I had this dream about starting an Army surplus type store for younger people. Back in the hippy days, teens and college kids were wearing Army field jackets and Navy pea coats. It was a kind of reverse play on the protest against the Vietnam War. There was also a fad for American flag neckties and sew on flag patches and anything related. This was the very ominous beginning of the Youth Market and we were in the thick of it. We did open the clothing store in a recently available location, around the corner of our head shop. The space was previously a non-profit coffee shop and they had left a bunch of those old wooden cable spools that people made table out of. We used these to display clothing on. Our surplus shop was done with the minimal amount fixtures and expenses. I made the outside store sign out of some scrap wood that I found. This store was called Khaki Bros. This was a tongue in cheek reference to the old traditional army surplus stores that were always called something like, so-in-so brothers, etc. I went to art school for 2 years and everything that I did, reflected my creative nature. This store, unlike the head shop was making money. We found a man in Chicago that had a huge warehouse filled with old clothing. I always wondered how he accumulated this all. I thought that maybe he bought the overflows from stores that accepted donated clothing. He showed me this huge machine that he used to bail up old men’s wool suits, that he sold, by the pound, to India. There was this market out there that I never knew existed. He used to bring me army surplus clothing and he turned out to be a great source. His wholesale prices were very cheap. It was funny, because when he was working in this huge dim lit warehouse, he wore overalls, but when he dropped off clothing, in his Cadillac, we wore a nice suit. He lived in the nice suburbs and wanted to make a good impression, amongst his neighbors. I think that you get the picture. He would sometimes surprise with some odd foreign surplus that we just loved. There was this one group of white duck, canvas, 3/4 length army coats from Sweden, with natural sheep wool collars, from WW2, and some of them were still brand new. The most popular clothing was still the army field jackets and the ones we got were from WW2 and many still had the army patches on them. We had a great time with this shop. We were so cheap, that for price tags, we used the reverse side of some fliers that we found and cut them into little squares and stapled onto the garments and wrote the price with a black felt marker. Yes, we were recycling, before it was even popular.
There was a movement back then, among young people, to get out of the city, and live in more rural areas around the country. This was the time when folk music was taking hold and the idea of living on a farm or the like, was very popular. We were also very influenced by this idea and we decided to sell our 2 stores and move to Aspen Colorado. Aspen is only about 4-5 square blocks of it’s downtown region. We located a space there around 1969, and the plan was to continue the army surplus idea, but that was beginning to wane in popularity, so we merged into just good old casual clothing like blue jeans. Aspen had a local town look of faded jeans and flannel shirts and hiking boots. We grabbed onto that look and we had both men’s and women’s clothing. We found a great location and over a few years, it really took off and lasted for 25 years, when my partner and I, parted ways. He kept the store for a while and I moved to Carmel California, where my wife’s parents lived. Long story short, I had a few retail stores, some good, some not so good. I still live in this area and I am retired. I had a very good life, thus far and I still create art and do some writing.