GREEN BAY – When Pierre Jacque says he’s going to have “all kinds of weird stuff” in his new record store, he’s not just referring to run-of-the-mill weird things like the full-size R2-D2 and an “ALF.” accessory he has been living with at home.
He’s talking about Mr. T coloring books, bagel-sized “Jurassic Park” buttons, a “Full House” board game, and a black garbage bag full of those 1984 rubber alligators that were a must-have on the streets. fairs of the time.
“People say, ‘My God, I had that alligator!’ I’m like, ‘I have hundreds them!’” he said.
If Jacque sounds like a kid in a candy store talking about a record store, that’s because he’s excited that the Green Bay UFO Museum Gift Shop and Records is giving him an outlet for ideas that have been spinning around in his head for years.
“I never had an excuse to throw a Van Halentine Day party, but now I do,” he said.
Since signing the lease in mid-June, he’s been busy renovating the lower level at 2248 University Ave. that local musician Jimmy Crimmins and Mark Peterson occupied for 30 years as co-owners of The Guitar Cellar. Jacque’s new venture, scheduled for a grand opening on September 28, will keep the musical vibes going in a space where many people remember taking guitar lessons as children.
“You can’t make a lot of great music without guitars, so that was a big deal for Green Bay,” he said of the connection to The Guitar Cellar. “This feels spiritually close to that a little bit.”
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Tom Smith, The Exclusive Company Connections
Jacque hopes that UFO will also help fill the void left by the closure of The Exclusive Company last month after nearly 37 years. Growing up on the west side of town, Jacque spent her time at the Dousman Street record store that became an institution on the local music scene, thanks in no small part to manager Tom Smith, who had worked there since 1988. .
Jacque has known Smith since he was a teenager and the two have worked together at the store for the last five years. Smith was leading Jacque when news broke in April that all The Exclusive Company locations in the state were closing.
“It was kind of like, ‘Man, what’s Tom going to do?’ I don’t want him to have to work out of a record store. He’s been doing it for 35 years, so the idea of him not having to sell records was what pushed me over the edge,” said Jacque. “You know what? He should do this.
A 2005 Notre Dame Academy graduate, Jacque has been in retail her entire working life. He was a chef before the pandemic hit. UFO is his first business venture as an owner.
He offered Smith a job, a raise and a schedule much closer to 40 hours a week. With Smith on board at UFO, the other priority was carefully preserving the more than three decades of Green Bay rock and roll history that had accumulated on the walls of The Exclusive Company, where the back room was covered with artist posters and flyers. of bands. .
“I spent probably 40 hours getting staples out and X-Acto cutting the edges off things, but it was worth it,” said Jacque. “That was one of the things I couldn’t even have dreamed of leaving behind in that store.”
Some of those memories will be on display at UFO, with information and thoughts from Smith.
“There were layers and layers, so there will be things that people haven’t seen in many years,” Jacque said.
It also has the three neon signs that used to hang at The Exclusive Company. They will require a bit of maintenance to make them shine again, but look forward to having one hanging in the new store.
Vinyl records, VHS movie rentals, some CDs
Like The Exclusive Company, UFO will offer buyers a wide selection of new and used vinyl. While it will carry some CDs and cassettes, as a smaller operation you won’t be able to have the inventory that the Exclusive did.
“Most importantly, I had a couple thousand extra records at home. I don’t have a couple thousand extra CDs at home,” said Jacque.
Instead, the focus will be on quality and meeting people’s specific interests, including ordering releases at the customer’s request.
Exclusive Company shoppers will recognize some of the store’s former album racks and CD bins, which will be placed on wheels so they can be moved and make the space versatile. Jacque has tried to reuse as much as she can to save money on wood costs and give the store a vintage feel.
A previous tenant had already removed the old ceiling to expose the ductwork and joists. Jacque has been painting. Additional lighting and a sound system are yet to come.
The wall running below the street level windows has been lined with melted albums. Jacque burned two heat guns and a couple of damaged easy-listening expendable record cases to create the dripping effect of music. He confesses that he too slipped a title or two just for the sheer joy of destroying it. (Sorry Eric Clapton.)
UFO shares the building with two other companies, The Blue Gem Tattoo Y the dispensary. Jacque is still pinching herself about how robust the air conditioning system is, which wasn’t exactly the case at The Exclusive Company.
“We had a couple of little window units, and if we had any problems with them, it was a sweaty day to sell records,” he said.
You’ve already found a place in the entryway to hang flyers for live concerts and other events in the area. A small alcove will be a listening room with a chair and turntable for patrons to preview an album before buying it or listen to it from a library of releases from local bands you’d like to create.
A back room with a large window into the main retail space will be converted into a VHS rental store. Jacque knows that few people still own a dusty VCR to play VHS tapes, but she says it’s more about recreating the nostalgic experience of enjoying the box art while choosing a movie. He hopes to have a couple of VCRs that customers can rent. At the very least, maybe all that browsing will inspire people to go home and find a way to stream a title that caught their eye.
The tapes are all from his own collection and he will offer special seasonal sections for Halloween and Christmas.
Gum Scorpions, California Raisins, Buttons
It has ideas for planned events to help build a community, including occasional movie screenings and concerts by smaller bands that might not otherwise have a venue or can offer an all-ages alternative to bar shows.
“I can’t overstate the importance of The Exclusive Company to me personally and my development as a young person trying to be cool and also fair to the community at large,” said Jacque. “A lot of my friends and people who are indispensable to me now are people I met through the record store. I just wanted to make sure that all my friends still have a place where they can meet.”
He realizes that not everyone can spend $20 on vinyl every time he walks in, so that’s where the gift shop and museum items come in. Customers can still soak up the atmosphere of the store, learn a little about the city’s music history, and go home with a $3 purchase.
It will sell all kinds of cheap novelties, including buttons, California Raisins figurines, tiny plastic dolls, and glasses and mustache costumes. That’s just for starters.
“Things you’ve never seen before and probably never will see anywhere else,” Jacque said.
It’s what he calls “new old stock,” much of which is leftover from bowling alleys, arcades and vending machines. In this case, UFO can also mean “unusually found objects,” he said, but for the record, there was also a full-size alien, albeit in two halves, on the premises at the time of the interview.
“I think one little trinket can change your whole day. Or not even yours, but someone else’s. If somebody’s having a bad day, ‘Oh, sorry, man, that sucks, whatever.’ That only goes so far,” said Jacque. “But like, ‘Oh man, that’s a bummer. Here, have a rubber scorpion. That’s going to drastically alter the trajectory of your day at times.”
He’s taking inspiration from Uncle Fun, the now-closed store in Chicago that had walls full of novelties and toys. A line of in-house designed t-shirts is in the works for the inaugural UFO, and Jacque also hopes to eventually introduce a line of house-branded fake poop and shindig cushions.
“I want everyone to have fun. Relax a little bit and accept the absurdity of things sometimes, because that’s the world we live in now,” said Jacque. “Lots of alligators: pretty crazy. The newspaper: another kind of madness, less capricious. It’s a heavy world.”