How Store Buyout Came About

Hey.  It’s Kyle.  All ideas start somewhere. Here’s how Store Buyout came about.

December, 2006.  Jody, Fiddy and I were in a hot tub in Hawaii with a bunch of friends and family.  It was the end of a crazy year.  I’d just traded up from a red paperclip to a house. My brother Scott and our buddy Fiddy had just hitchhiked to 50 states in 50 days.  Jody had traded a year of rent for a recording contract.  She’d just finished recording her album, Pivot.  Anything was possible. The ideas flowed like the beers. As the beers went down, the possibilities went up.

At some point in the brewdown one of us said, “We need to walk into a store and buy everything.  Think about it. Everything in a store is for sale, but nobody ever walks in and buys it all.  Store owners are totally asking for it!”

As the years went on, the idea to buy out a store literally possessed me from time to time.  I continually brought up the idea.  Fiddy and I wrote ideas about how we could make it happen.  But we always hit a wall financially or creatively.  “Why are we going to do this?”  The answer for me was always “Why not?!!” which i’m all about, but financial backers and collaborators often want crazy things, like reasons or a business plan.

But when I met an Australian creative named Hal Kirkland, all of that began to change.  I’d met Hal initially after being asked to tell the one red paperclip story to a bunch of creative directors at an advertising festival in Montreal.

Hal’s an Aussie living in New York.  He’s got crazy good track record of work.  His words have appeared on ads in Times Square, he’s directed a Snoop Dogg video, he’s designed cereal boxes, the list goes on.  He’s one of the directors behind the amazing video for Japanese band Sour, Hibi No Neiro, a video I’d only just become aware of…3.5 million views after everybody else.

Two weeks later I found myself in New York on a restaurant patio with Hal.  “I’ve got this idea to buy everything in a store.”  Many cups of strong tea later the plan emerged. Hal could assemble a team of talented people to film the event.  He could turn the products from the store into art.  He could design a logo.  Hal could choose a font.  Hal could pretty much do everything I had no idea about.  Hal was about to leave his job in advertising to focus on projects he was excited about.  “I’m really excited about this project”, he said.

I’d met the perfect guy at the perfect time.

As we parted ways, I said, “We’re serious about this.  I’ll be back in a few weeks with a couple people to make it happen.”

At Jody’s place in New York I explained the idea to her.  “Count me in if you’re going to do it.”  We pinky swore on it.  Few people on earth are as resourceful as Jody.  She truly makes things happen.

I’d also recently met up with Gary Lachance.   Gary’s one of the founding fathers of the Decentralized Dance Party, or The DDP.  DDPs are your wildest party dream come true.  Gary hooks up his iPod to a portable FM transmitter and creates a mobile party radio station.  He then hands out hundreds of battery powered boomboxes, tunes them to the radio station, cranks the boomboxes to 11, and thousands of people show up.  The party then goes where no parties have gone before.  It’s the funnest mobile party the streets have ever seen. Gary isn’t one of those guys who has “No” in their vocabulary, needless to say he was a perfect partner for this kind of operation.

We emailed Jody, “Looks like we’re going to do this in New York.  Got any ideas of a store we should buy out?”  Her reply was instantaneous and succinct.  “HFG.  Hercules Fancy Grocery.  If you’re going to buy everything in a store, it has to be from Hercules.”

We didn’t know much about the store, but Jody said Hercules is one of the neighborhood’s, if not the city’s, favorite people.  He was going through a hard patch. I’d always just planned to walk into some random store and buy everything.  The person ringing up the items was never that central to the idea.  But maybe we could help Hercules.  Everyone agreed.  Herc’s might just be the store to buy out.  We had to see the store firsthand to be sure.  I had a rough idea of how much it’d cost to buy out a corner store, and wanted to work within the boundaries of my available credit.  If Hercules Fancy Grocery had too much stock, the deal was off.  We’d kept our mouths shut and began to scheme behind the scenes.  The element of surprise was key to our plan.

A group Skype call later and we decided to turn all of the items from the store buyout into art.  It’d be a fun thing to do.  An interesting creative challenge.  We’d find some vacant retail space or an art gallery and show items from Hercules’ store.   Maybe we could make back the original expense of the project and even help Hercules out.  It was possible. The only way to find out was to try.

I whipped out my credit card and bought three one way tickets to New York City.  I’d bring the enthusiasm and the credit card.  The real work would be handled by people who knew what they were doing.

To Be Continued….


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