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[This Just In]

Commodify your dissent


Last Friday night, the sprightly woman behind the register at Newbury Comics in Harvard Square sported a faded black indie-rock T-shirt. Her streaky hair was artfully disheveled, and she wore a sour, bored expression on her face. It’s a look, all right. And one that the record chain is now attempting to sell, head to toe.

Last Saturday, the 23-year-old music store opened Hootenanny, a " counterculture " clothing store, just stumbling distance from the chain’s Harvard Square location in the Garage mall. Newbury Comics wants not only to sell scenesters the soundtrack to their lives, but also to deck them out — from wingtips to safety-pin earrings. Pick up a Johnny Cash album, buy a T-shirt with the Man in Black’s face splashed across it. It’s that simple.

Hootenanny is a natural outgrowth of the record store, which has 22 locations across New England, says Valerie Forgione, the chain’s vice-president. " There’s a huge hole in this market for anything that’s not your traditional — I hate to use this word — mall retailer, " she says. " The people who work for us are all very young and very street savvy. They’re at clubs five to six nights a week. We live it. "

The new shop caters to the fashion whims of many musical genres’ fans: rock, goth, swinger, punk, rockabilly, indie hipster, club. Though the store’s stock is divided into men’s and women’s sections, Forgione assures die-hards that they’ll have an easy time finding what they’re looking for. " Punk-rock clothes with bum flaps will be within one section, and you’ll have all your weird shiny vinyl things in another. "

Thank God. We wouldn’t want to get lost amid the faux-leather chaps.

Issue Date: July 26 - August 2, 2001