This is Padywacs – the best store in America, bar none.
(“Store” is an American word, meaning “shop”.)
Few would have thought that the best store in America would be found in South Lyon, a sleepy Michigan pumpkintown North West of Detroit. But having visited every single store in America, I can confirm that it doesn’t get any better than this.
Let’s take a look at what’s inside.
Yep, the battered Mario on the battered sign is a dead giveaway – Padywacs buys and sells video games. But Padywacs is so much more than a games exchange.
For one thing, here’s a typical POS:
There’s some order there, but not much. All is arranged into piles, and all piles are teetering affairs, liable to collapse if you bother them too much. But this merely encourages you to take care while browsing. And no idle rummage is this – it’s an exploration! Any discovery you make is just that – a discovery; A pearl pried from a sleeping clam.
But if you distrust chaos, elsewhere you will find order. Here’s a shelf filled with Sega games:
American Dreamcast boxes aren’t nearly as nice as their European counterparts, are they? Where we got beautiful chunky blue things, America got plain old jewel cases which, at a glance, could be mistaken for magazine demo discs.
But I digress. There’s more to life than video games, and Padywacs couldn’t very well lay claim to being the best store in America if it only sold video games, now could it?
Nah, there’s all sorts in here. We only had 10 minutes, but I could happily have explored for at least twice that. In the short stretch of time we spent there, here are some of the things I found:
James Earl Jones reads the Bible! It takes him 19 hours and fills 12 cassettes. It’s presented by “The Literature Listener”, who we can safely assume wears a cape and lives in a tower.
A homemade mixtape! Well, it’s not really a mixtape, as rather than compiling a mix, they’ve recorded a Live album on one side, and a Nirvana on the other. Nevermind occupies the B-Side, so you can tell where this person’s allegiance lay. They probably had “Live 4 Life” tattooed on at least one limb.
If you made and mislaid this tape, you’ll find it in Padywacs, South Lyon.
And finally, here’s a VHS somebody made. You might not be able to make out the writing, but it features a double bill of Romancing The Stone and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Two swashbuckling adventures, back to back on the same tape, and WHY DIDN’T I BUY THIS?
It would certainly have been filled with all manner of old adverts which, having not grown up in America, wouldn’t even register as nostalgia. Instead they’d just be old, fuzzy, otherworldly – and what if they left the tape running after the film, and caught some inexplicable late night infomercial afterwards, advertising a product that melted the faces and sausaged the hands of all who tried it, live on TV?
Do you know what I am? A mug. I’m a mug.
I didn’t go away completely empty handed, though. In the back of Padywacs was a room filled with records. Now here’s where I know what I’m talking about!
Not all of those were bought at Padywacs. The Quicksilver Messenger Service one was, as well as the two Halloween ones. The latter are ex-library stock, stickered and everything, and they’re being saved for a special night later this month.
Those three, plus both Wilco/Billy Bragg Mermaid Avenue CDs, were mine for $10.
Best store in America, bar none.
Hmm, while we’re here, I may as well talk about the other records I got. The two Sufjan Stevens albums were the perfect souvenir, as Michigan and Illinois were the two states I visited. Plus, they’re two of the most beautiful albums ever recorded.
The yellow one on the far left is The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid.
The framed one at the back is a gift from my girlfriend’s new American family. They heard I like music, so they framed a Motown LP for me! It’s The Temptations with Diana Ross and The Supremes. How thoughtful! How lovely!
So that’s Padywacs. The best store in America. And some vinyl.