I do not like hippie stores.
I don't have any need for shirts emblazoned with om symbols, patchouli-scented incense, or cheerfully tiedye-patterned pipes. And as soon as I walked into Heartbeat 960, the hippie alarm started wailing, tripped by the:
This is along with the usual hippie art, chapbooks, and a small assortment of punk-inspired streetwear from Trash Assault and things like an acid-green polyester minidress trimmed with black lace and ribbons, and sweaters adorned with bats and skulls.
But, while I feel no regret in my callous dismissal of the style sense of an entire subculture, one thing that the hippies have always done right is their love of the "artist."
Now, hippies love talking about "artists," and "communities," so I wasn't surprised when co-owner Laura Aidan Blaise said that Heartbeat 960 seeks to be a "welcoming space for local designers, artists, craftspeople, and musicians." She says, "We like to think of it as a collective or a co-operative where artists can sell things and have a lot of say in how they sell things."
Heartbeat 960 will also be offering gallery rental space, and a performance space out back for music shows, says Aidan Blaise. In the future, the collective hopes to rent out the basement as studio space as well. In a time when starting a retail store--or getting any artistic endeavour off the ground--is a sketchy proposition, this diversifying might save the store and those who sell their stuff there, which I like.
And, despite my hippie hatred, there are some good pieces in the store that should appeal to a wider audience. Co-owner Francesca Nocera sells her hand-stenciled pieces here, including hoodies with a splash of hummingbirds ($52), or tees with a colourful cascade of praying hands ($34). Also sold are the stylish t-shirts from local line Psy-Ops that featuring machines made of psychedelia ($20).
So, hippies take note: I may not dig it, but you might. Support the artists, man.
Photos by Alex Russel