Not so strange, mainlyThe Strange Maine store is affiliated in spirit with the Strange Maine Gazette and blog. Both are named in honor of the book, Strange Maine, edited by Charles G. Waugh, Martin H. Greenberg & Frank D. McSherry, Jr., and illustrated by Peter Farrow, which was published in 1986 by L. Tapley (Augusta, ME). Brendan Evans, the owner, is my friend. The store is one of the best spots in the city for wandering in on interesting conversations.
April 23, 2009
By John Rolfe
Scott Spear is a clerk, Web designer and show booker at Strange Maine, a shop and performance space on Congress Street in Portland. The store buys and sells used music, movies, books and art, and also new CDs by local and underground artists and pop culture items.
WHAT: Strange Maine
WHERE: 578 Congress St., Portland
WEB SITE: www.kraag.org/strange
ABOUT SHOPTALK -- Shoptalk allows people to describe in their own words the rewards and challenges of their jobs. In doing so, they reflect the energy, imagination and hard work that characterize the workplace in Maine.
Q: What's your job title?
A: There's no one title, really. I'm a clerk, but I also do the Web design and the show booking.
Q: What's the significance of the Web site name?
A: The "kraag" was my URL before Strange Maine came into existence, and I agreed to host for Strange Maine. (The name) is hard to explain. It just pertains to me and my end, and doesn't relate to Strange Maine, other than the fact that I work on both. I was using it to designate a certain type of music I was working on back in the day. It's the Dutch word for collar. I didn't know that; I thought I made up the word, until someone told me what it meant!
Q: What would you be doing in another life?
A: Oh, I don't know. Tempering swords, or something. I don't really know. I do several things; I have several lives as it is. ... I'm a musician, primarily a solo guy, under the nom de plume Id M Theft Able. But that's way too long a story to explain.
Q: Who named the store?
A: I believe that the owner/manager decided. He's the boss, Brendan Evans.
Q: When did you open?
A: April 1, 2003.
Q: Is Congress Street a good location for a store called Strange Maine?
A: Absolutely. Yeah we, when everybody first talked about opening the store, it wasn't one of the original plans. I don't want to speak as an authority, but we figured we would get some spot maybe on the outskirts. We even thought about running the store out of the back of a big van for a while. But then we realized it was actually possible to get a storefront on Congress Street, and it's been fantastic. All the foot traffic, and a lot of tourists during the summer. I believe it's been a pretty big success so far.
Certainly there are times when folks see the name and think, 'Well, I'm strange,' and come in off the street. Come in and be like, 'Strange Maine, huh, I'll tell you something strange,' and give me whatever he feels like talking about today. (The store) can be a strange magnet, we'll say.
Q: Ever get any celebs?
A: Yeah, it's kind of funny, Brendan started having famous people who come in sign the counter. Probably the most famous we have is Pee Wee Herman. Weird Al signed the counter. Loren Coleman, the cryptozoologist from Portland. Nels Cline from Wilco. And we had Thurston Moore come in and do some shopping, but he didn't sign. We'd put a postcard up asking anybody from Sonic Youth to sign the counter while they were in town, but I guess he didn't see it.
Q: Who's your best customer?
A: Oh man, there are so many, a lot of regulars. Not to cop out, but no way could I name just one. Pretty diverse customers, not just the record geeks and hippies and whatever, but all kinds of folks who live in the area. They'll walk in and say they've never seen a record store quite like it. We don't have any of that sort of air, 'We know a lot and you don't.' That garbage turns us all off, for sure.
Q: Did you think Strange Maine would last six years?
A: I had no idea. When we started it was just, let's see what happens. It just sort of happened, and is happening, very naturally. I, personally, didn't foresee how successful it would be, not that I thought it would fail. Yes, I think the store can go another six years, or longer. It feels necessary, in some weird way.
Read the full interview here: [Source]
Way back at the beginning of this blog, I discussed the Strange Maine triple identity.