Interview by: Thomas Bradley
Photography: Joseph Cartman & Bodega
Produced by: Liquidrice (Thanks kookies)
6 Clearway Street | Google Map
Boston, MA 02115
TEL #: 617-421-1550
So who’s running this Bodega anyway?
We’re a gang of three: Jay, Oliver & Dan. We’ve all been separately involved in many different hustles… everything from running plastics plants, painting burners, mowing lawns, DJing, professional gambling, graphic design, ceramics, building trades, bouncing at punk rock clubs, pumping gas…Now we run a filthy bodega that’s poorly stocked and never open – seems like a natural progression.
With the Bodega being such an iconic spot for urban youth how have you been received?
Boston’s been needing something, anything, for a while now. The art scene is disconnected from the population. People are really excited that there’s something special in the city now. There’s an odd lack of accessible culture in Boston. We’re looking to fill the void and help design and art thrive in a traditionally conservative area. One gentleman summed it up when he walked in with wide eyes and said to himself, “It’s about goddamn time,” while rubbing his hands together.
The space also converts into a full gallery. Our first installation is coming mid-summer from the Also Known As book series. I’m interested to see the reaction to our gallery endeavors. There’s an odd intersection between art and consumerism that sometimes doesn’t work out. I hope we can resolve that in our exhibitions and present artists that we see as important. WK interakt, Os Gemeos, Jose Parla, Barry McGee, David Choe, Fafi, Swoon… I have a wish list already put together comprised of reformed vandals.
Besides 40oz. And phillies, what brands will Bodega be particularly proud to carry this season?
In the bodega section, i’m proud to say we have this Jamaican soda named “Ting” that will eventually be the cause of diabetes for me. Frito’s snack sized packs are also priced to move quick. I’m most excited for the Dr. Romanelli pieces that we’re helping gather source materials for. 10deep, NoMas, JB Classics, Nossa, Coup D’ Etat, Ms. Claw, Recon, aNYthing, Mishka, dpMHI, Still Life, Bijules, Undrcrwn, LMAC/False, Gravis, King Stampede, RBK kolors, PUMA, IRAK… all the brands and crews we work with are pretty amazing in terms quality, reputation and innovation. Definitely copping most of the VANS Vault and Nike Quickstrike joints for myself. We’re still in the process of getting our stock in order – it’s week number four of us being open and we’re still running out of everything. At this point, we’re selling small tees to fat kids.
People still bug out over how we’ve hidden the main space and created something utterly unique. Damn, I’m still amazed at the level we’ve pulled this off at. We’ve entirely surpassed our own expectations – and we set those way up there on the top shelf next to the cookies. People come by several times a week just to say hello and show friends. It’s become a communty center. The neighborhood has been very welcoming. We’ve formed an alliance with the barbershop across the way. Old ladies buy laundry detergent from us. Eric from Mishka started geeking when he saw the space – “This is the best shop in the WORLD!!!!” A nice kid from Dartmouth posted similar sentiments on Nike Talk and caught a bit of heat. I don’t know about all that, but it’s quite satisfying to build something with our own hands and have others around the world respond so strongly to it.
Describe the scene in Boston in relation to NY or LA even in terms of what sneaker models do best and what brands carry the most clout?
Boston is the underdog, the longshot. It’s flooded with university students and borderline homicidal sports fans. Violence is on the rise. B from VLK was here and said, “Boston’s like New York was in the 80’s.”
Nike is king now but it used to be an Adidas stronghold. It’s a little bit more indie, so VANS crushes. People line up at nike town and mom n’ pop shops for the drops. For the most part, we all consume the same media, follow the same sites so things that sell out here, sell out in NY , Hong Kong, London. 10deep was especially beastly this season.
Does the Bodega “front” actually function as a little shop itself or is it for aesthetic purposes only?
The bodega is fully functional and entirely self contained. We sell pickled eggs, expired canned goods, draino – everything a household could need. The idea was to carry things in the front that are useful for the neighborhood, and to use the back to serve the more refined urban consumers. Not everyone needs art books, european spraypaint, and premium goods. We wanted to be useful to the commnity at large. Bodegas do have a nice look to them don’t ya think? Makes me feel at home.
With such a novel idea for a shop will Bodega be launching any expeditions into the land of branding anytime soon? A clothing line perhaps?
We’ve already done a small run of our own designs carried instore. It’s almost all gone. The idea is based around luxury goods for thieves. We’re hoping to launch our own full line within the first 2 years. Until then, be on the lookout for product collaborations, a mixtape or two from Gucci Vuitton, and materials from our art exhibitions. We have other ideas for future environments that may come to fruition shortly.
Several more tees and sweats from our own line should be popping off by Summer/Fall ’06. I’d like to get Big Mouth brand lollipops for the kids. We’ll finally have our opening party in the Fall as well. There’s a top secret product collabo that is dropping late fall as well. I’ll email about that once we’re finished with production.
Many thanks for listening,
Oliver & Co.