Shortly after Rudy Goose closed I moved to San Francisco. My intent was to open a new brick and mortar shop in the bay area with the help of my friends Bloo, Sylvan and Roman. (Bloo had some money he was considering investing and Sylvan and Roman have been friends and moral support since my college days at Simon’s Rock) In one late night planning session the business became christened “Evil Empire Records” in response to my “pinko” leanings… I wanted to figure out a way to provide health insurance to even part time employees. I figured since I was selling a lot of 80s punk rock type stuff, people would get the Ronald Reagan dig. No one really did.
I launched the Evil Empire website, which did pretty well with some ebay support, but the actually retail location never materialized. Frankly, I don‘t know how people live month to month in expensive cities like SF, much less open businesses! It became clear to me that I needed to move back to Columbus where rent was cheap, making all things possible.
As luck would have it, not long after I returned, a space for a record store opened up. There’s this little tiny sliver of a retail space (I mean tiny! Basically the space is a roofed over alleyway… A guy my size can touch both walls with arms stretched out.) in Clintonville on N. High Street that was a record store for many years. It had had many owners and names… Good Vibrations, Tongue and Groove and immediately subsequent to me, Lost Weekend Records.
The storefront is one of those spots that a can trick a would-be entrepreneur. There is a lot of drive by traffic, it’s in an artsy middle class neighborhood and rent is cheap. Unfortunately it’s hard to see from the street and parking isn’t easy. Kyle Siegrist, Lost Weekend’s owner, was the only guy to ever make it work… And he was moving into a bigger storefront down the road a piece. I jumped in and tried tom open up an Evil Empire storefront in the vacated storefront.
It didn’t work out. A year and a half into it, hopelessly behind on rent and payments to my primary record distro, I was forced to close up shop. I continued the Evil Empire tradition on-line and by selling records on consignment at Kafe Keoruac and What The Rock?! For a few years, but eventually I sold off all of the merchandise to fund my Nix Comics publishing ventures.
Two bright sides: First, I’m much better at making comics than running a retail establishment. Second, while most of the Rudy Goose Comics art and signage was lost to time and tide, thanks to facebook and (if you can believe it) myspace, I was able to save a lot of the artwork from fliers for the Evil Empire shop!
Here’s some of that artwork, by myself, Donovan Roth (who I commended to give me a series of posters with werewolves fighting robots) and John Malta (who has gone on to a lot of success in NYC as an artist and cartoonist).