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I grew up lower middle class and was never rich enough to buy the things I wanted. Growing up in Lansing was awful, but it has gotten way cooler. I was from the south side and went to Everett High School, dropping out the last semester of my senior year. After that I hopped on a Greyhound bus with $100 and moved to San Francisco.
I burned through the money in two days and it was the start of becoming homeless for three months. From there, I moved to Hawaii and was homeless for another three months. I got back on my feet, coming back home to Lansing before I moved to LA. While there, I used to run a ghetto fab thrift shop on Hollywood Boulevard for six months. Then I divorced my partner and walked away. If I had to choose one item as my favorite, it would be my TV. It holds quite a scene.
The guy looks like John Waters. I like the whole dining, bar scene and, most important, her cone tits! It also actually lights up on the inside and has these giant antennas. I got my TV from a retired gay porn director. He had a studio apartment and was downsizing. When I went to his apartment at the time, he had this hanging on his wall and I loved it. He got it from an artist, who I think may have died from AIDS. The porn director told me he was thinking to clean out.
I said “If you ever want to part with it, I’ll take it off your hands.” One day he told me he had no room in his new place so he brought it over to me. When I moved back to Lansing, I had this in my entryway, but it was put in my attic after a while. It is not for sale, but I would take $5,000 for it and not a penny less. I like to think of it as giving the artist respect to have it in my window.
It will be three years for Metro Retro in April and I love doing what I do. But I did pay my dues doing dishwasher jobs, telemarketer jobs and the nine to five grind. I used to try to sell people insurance and hair restoration products that could “change their lives.”
The biggest thrill with this job is at the end when I see somebody happy with a smile on their face after they found something in my shop.
(This interview was edited and condensed by Dennis Burck. If you have a recommendation for “Favorite Things,” please email email@example.com.)