It was a beautiful sunny day this past Sunday and not unlike the last time Svengoolie visited J.J. Blinkers in Antioch, Illinois. In fact, it was just over five years ago when the national TV horror host descended upon the trick shop like an atomic rubber chicken; blasting all turnout expectations in an unforgettable visit the locals still talk about to this day. Mere minutes from the Wisconsin border, Antioch would be inundated with fans while providing them with fun embellishments such as complimentary gift bags and Svengoolie-style treats. By the time it was all over, the village wouldn’t know what hit them and Rich Koz would prove himself to be one broadcasting legend whose popularity only seemed to grow stronger with age. The question surrounding his latest appearance wasn’t if he’d bring in the crowds but how the store was prepared to handle them all?
Once upon a time, American communities boasted a plethora of privately owned “mom and pop” stores that carried unique items guaranteeing no two were the same. Often they were operated by local residents whom you knew by name and, more importantly, knew yours along with your interests. Eventually big name corporations would arrive and wipe most of them out by featuring standard merchandise (usually cheaper) via large retail stores that enticed busy consumers with the luxury of a “one stop shop.” The dawn of the Internet would present further challenges as online sales and auctions made tracking down even the most elusive item as simple as the press of a button. Though we may have an easier time heading to our nearest Walmart or ordering something from the comfort of our homes, there will always be something lost in doing so. Those of us who grew up in a world dominated by private businesses know full well that there was a sort of ambiance being inside their musty walls and surrounded by a cornucopia of like-items you could see with your own eyes and touch with your hands. Say what you will about convenience, it will never compare with the full immersive “experience” these places offered.
Last year at Thanksgiving we decided to feature a post dedicated to showing our appreciation to those who helped us out in ways that went above and beyond the call of duty (as seen HERE). This past year has been even more amazing as we saw our young blog break 100,000 hits with over 20,000 last month alone. That’s not too bad for a private blog that scarcely advertises outside of Facebook. It’s been a humbling experience for two guys who, after spending most of our lives standing in the shadows, finally found our own voices. The feedback and growing readership has been incredible and, above all, we thank YOU the readers. There are a LOT of blogs and websites out there and for you to not only take time out of your busy lives to visit, but come back and see us again is appreciated more than mere words can convey. Some of the folks from our last list will be back on this one, but we are really happy to feature the ones we just met this past year and who generously showed their support! So, without further adieu…
The Internet had been buzzing for weeks at the news of National horror host, Svengoolie, making a public appearance at JJ Blinkers – a costume/trick shop located in Antioch, Illinois. The “Rubber Chicken, Whoopee cushion kinda store” was an obvious perfect fit for Sven, while its location (north of Chicago) made it an ideal spot for his Wisconsin fans to see him as well.
I had heard of this event almost from the moment it was booked courtesy of my friend, Dr. Destruction. Dr. Destruction is an avid fan of both Svengoolies and was honored by the Chicago icon when he participated in his Kenosha based “Big Top Radio Show” (for which I was also honored to be a part of) a few weeks back. Unable to contain his excitement of seeing Svengoolie again, and at one of his favorite stores, Destruction began his own one-man media campaign.