bradygothshop.jpg by Jeremy Berg

Jenny Gibson occasionally gets customers still seeking the head shop that once occupied 932 E. Brady Street. Why is unclear — it’s been gone for ten years — but they have at least still come to a place of alternative culture. Just one slightly different than what they were expecting. “I want to open an alternative clothing store,” she says. “We don’t have one; we need one.” Well, we have one now. The Wailing Banshee Boo-tique is in its early days (opened in February), and as such has a limited inventory and a staff of two (Gibson and her husband). What is there runs the gamut of the “gothic and alternative clothes and accessories” billing. Medieval-looking dresses and pirate shirts stand side by side with artwork by local artists, boots, 1980s skinny ties, leather bracelets and collars, and t-shirts featuring such goth favorites as The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Joy Division. “I think I’m kind of more along the lines of the old school Brady Street. Brady Street used to be really alternative, lots of neat little stores. . .lately I think it’s gotten kind of mainstream. Not to put down anybody, but I do think it’s not like it used to be.” While restoring some of Brady’s old style is a side benefit, Gibson chose the location for the foot traffic and clientele, as well as for the character of the building. “The inside is really beautiful; it’s not just four walls, it’s got character.” Nor is it just the physical space that Gibson seeks to make unusual. She carries “more guys’ stuff. A lot of stores cater more toward girls. I try to have an even balance.” There’s also a resale section, a rarity for alternative clothing stores. “I wanted to have the resale for people who wanted to get something that was kind of cool, and [not] have to pay a lot of money. . .it’s been really popular.” Other unique features include goth clothing for kids and a low mark-up — hands down, the best price I’ve ever seen for plastic pants. Gibson has also reached out to the community; local artists have already provided the store’s logo and some drawings, chainmail and leatherwork are on their way, and Wailing Banshee accepts WMSE’s club card for discounts. She adds that she wants to “let people know that this is a [transvestite and] gay-friendly place. If guys want to come in and try on dresses, they’re not going to be hassled.” Already off to a solid start, Gibson envisions ever more expansion. She plans to add to the inventory and get a booth at Convergence 10, a goth convention held in Chicago in May. While that is not yet firm, Gibson is already looking ahead, perhaps unsurprisingly, to next October. “Definitely for Halloween this place is going to be kicking. . .that’s my favorite holiday by far.” The Wailing Banshee Boo-tique is located at 932 E. Brady Street. Call 414/277-WAIL. is currently under construction.
by Jeremy Berg