The Alley has supplied Chicago land with dark couture for almost forty years. It has been a mainstay of punks, goths, freaks, geeks, poseurs, and devotees of unpopular culture. Owner Mark Thomas closes shop on January 19, but not before holding a funeral for the store at 3228 N Clark Street on Saturday, January 16. Services begin at 9pm; live music begins at 8pm.
Thomas began as an enterprising teen, using a $1725 cashier’s check to buy a jewelry casting business. It expanded to shoes, leather jackets, belt buckles, piercings, and other accessories for an alternative lifestyle. The Alley’s space at Belmont and Clark became an alt-Mecca.
According to Crain’s, the Alley has seen a 2/3 drop in revenue since its heyday at the turn of the millennium. Its taxes are estimated to hike from $44.000 per year to $54,000. In Crain’s, Thomas lamented, “We weren’t making a lot of money, be weren’t losing money. But tell me, how does a single store owner pay $55,000 a year in real estate taxes? That’s bigger than my mortgage.” There are plans to reopen the Alley elsewhere as more of a community-minded space. In the meantime, services will be held.
100 memorial t-shirts will be awarded to the first to arrive on the evening of the 16th. There will be live entertainment and possibly a keg. I’ll be joining the Blue Ribbon Glee Club for a cappella punk rock and a David Bowie tribute at 8:45 pm. Thomas plans to cap the evening by placing city and state budgets in a casket, loading them into his 1961 Cadillac hearse and driving into the night.
This should put the “fun” in “funeral.”