It began with a bicycle.
My girlfriend wanted a bicycle. While walking after dinner, we got lucky. In the window of an old shop, set two vintage fixies that seemed to be in pretty good shape. We called the number taped to one of the bikes, scheduled a time to meet the owner, and waited out front. As we waited, my girlfriend and I debated which bike looked cooler and would be the best fit. At a lull in the conversation, I brought up my favorite bit of trivia about the space we were peering into.
NuPenny Toy Store
In 2012, out of nowhere, that space became NuPenny Toy Store. There was no announcement, no store hours. It just appeared. Though aesthetically retro, eternally locked, with no one inside, it seemed to have a life. Passers by, adults and children alike, were forced to press up against the windows to see the unfamiliar toys inside. On more than one occasion, I was one of them.
To me, NuPenny was a source of inspiration, I spent my free time wondering how I might use my skills to create a similar sensation in people. It was a source of pride when I talked about it to friends back in LA, who wanted to know why I was in Kansas and when I’d be moving back. During a time when I was scraping the barrel for motivation, reshaping my creative career to fit a need in the midwest, NuPenny reassured me that there was a place for art, spontaneity, and mystery.
Eventually, as it came, NuPenny Toy Store disappeared.
Okay, that’s not entirely true.
I had heard the artist, Randy Regier, was moving away and with his departure, NuPenny would be no more. I was bummed to hear the news and after the storefront had been emptied, wondered what, if anything, would move in to replace it.
Meeting the Artist
The bike owner opened the doors and welcomed my girlfriend and me inside.
“Hey, guys. I’m Randy.”
My brain exploded a little bit.
After introductions, my girlfriend took the bikes for a spin, deciding that the purple one would best suit her need (mostly, the need for a bike that was adorably vintage and purple). Then, Randy said he’d take a couple of bucks off the price if I helped him move a heavy piece he was working on. “Sure,” I said. Though what I wanted to say was, “sure, and I could hold it out in front of me for a couple of hours if you that that was cool, or I could take it home and keep it, or like maybe be your apprentice or something… or just help you move it, whatever you want.”
You could say I was a bit excited to see Randy’s workshop and put my hands on a piece in progress.
I left happy, getting some closure on NuPenny, excited for what Randy was planning for the future.
“I don’t know if you remember me…”
About seven months ago, I was tasked with interviewing an artist or creative to discuss their creative process. I knew I had to interview Randy. Meekly, I sent him an email that began, “I don’t know if you remember me, but I bought a bike from you a little while ago and I was wondering…” Not wanting to waste his time, I had ten questions prepared and I gave him the option of responding via email. Instead, Randy had no problem accommodating my request for a video interview over Skype. What resulted, was a conversation lasting over an hour, covering a wide range of topics related to creativity, art, and life in general.
The video quality isn’t great, but Randy’s responses are worth listening to over and over again. Press play and listen in the background, or break it up into 15-30 minute increments, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy.