Back in September 2015 a curious store quietly opened it's door on Ludlow Street in the heart of New York's Lower East side. Identified by a hugle monogram flag and "Inutilious Retailer" name by the renowned typographer, Louise Fili.
The inside is black and white, lit by a giant barcode and though the door is always open, there is never anyone inside
In the middle of the room is a white slot machine from 1929, the start of the Great Depression, on a school desk. Pull the handle and the reels spin but they are completely white. The slot machine represents our working lives: we keep pulling for years in the hope of a reward but it never comes.
What you didn't notice as you pulled the machine is that the wall mirror rotates and somebody tells you that if you are prepared to make something to replace it, you can have any piece of clothing in the store for free. If you agree, a secret door opens and you are invited through to the secret workshop.
Once inside, you are asked to pick a new garment bought from The Salvation Army, offered a coffee, then taken through to an old workshop containing a thousand victorian printing blocks and lettering, where you can spend as long as you want creating whatever art you want on the new piece of clothing
While the art is drying, take a look through some of Wilson's collection of 10,000 different Victorian labels that were stuck on cloth by Manchester merchants to appeal to buyers around the world
Once you have completed your new piece of art, you are photographed and sent the image so you find out which random person made what you picked and which future random person picks what you left behind. You end up part of a chain of hundreds of customers who wandered into the store with curiosity and left with a piece of art and a reminder that some of the best things in life are free.
The store was featured in The Guardian and won a prestigious RDI Store of the Year award, where the chairman of the judges claimed that this was a store that made everyone think.
The store is more than a store. It is an art gallery, a studio and because the owner knows a lot of street artists, he brought them all in to decorate and renovate the previously derelict and empty back yard into a secret graffiti garden
And also created a street art 'advent calendar" in the front of the store which changes weekly
The original plan was to open the store until January but the store became such an integral part of Ludlow Street, beloved by locals who remembered when stores sold the things made in the back, not made in China and when the street was not being taken over by high end stores and private members clubs like the new SoHo House