There are two storefronts right next to each other—the flagship store and the warehouse. The flagship store delightfully bursts with classic items like tiny rubber monkeys wearing fez hats and offbeat action figures ranging from Oscar Wilde to Jesus. Along with these self-consciously ironic items, the store stocks an exciting rotation of bottom-dollar surplus curiosities. During my visit, I encountered goodies including test tubes, unlikely flavors of chewing gum, shiny metal tubes, and assorted styles of army jackets from assorted European armies.
The flagship store is probably the best place in the country to purchase a $2.50 sailor hat from a heavily tattooed cashier, and I felt lucky to be there. However, nothing could have prepared me for the warehouse next door. The warehouse is the land of bulk, a land of officially useless things sold for such low prices that it becomes extremely difficult to convince yourself that you don’t need to buy them. When I was there, they were hawking stylish photo albums for under a buck, and groovy metal lunchboxes for four dollars, but the real deal of them moment was seven dollars for a dozen stunning latex echidnas, which have provided my sister and myself with hours of joy as we arrange them into various Busby Berkeley-esque tableaus.
Of course, I recognize that not everyone finds joy in acquiring latex echidnas, so I also recognize that a visit to McPhee is not up everyone’s alley. If you’re not sure whether to go there while you’re in Seattle, you may wish to check out www.mcphee.com to get a good feel for the Archie aesthetic. If you’re sure you are going to visit, you may wish to check out www.mcphee.com anyway for current store hours, a map with directions, etc.
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San Francisco, California
September 18, 2005
From journal Seattle Forever
March 8, 2002
From journal Wacky Seattle: A guide to the Strange Things