Stepping into the narrow aisles of Chicago’s Strange Cargo clothing and accessory store is like traveling back in time. As bands like Duran Duran, the Thompson Twins, and Journey blaze over the loudspeaker, visitors are quickly transported from 2003 back about 20 years to a glorious decade known as the 80s. As you venture deeper into every nook and cranny of this vintage boutique, it’s clear that Strange Cargo’s a world where Atari is the video game system of choice, Adidas is the shoe brand everyone’s wearing, while bellbottoms and parachute pants are the obvious apparel rage.
Indeed the decade of decadence has come back in a big way, from the world of fashion to pop music to pop culture in general. You’ll find everything from iron on shirts and jerseys featuring your favorite retro icons (from Mr. T to Miami Vice to Hulk Hogan), posters of the most popular rock bands (Poison anyone?) right down to trading cards, mugs, pins, and belt buckles (featuring E.T., “Knight Rider,” and “Three’s Company” logos).
Browsing through Strange Cargo is truly a blast from the past for any child of the 80s, and what makes the shopping experience even more authentic is the fact that nearly all their goodies are era originals. According to staff members, the store stocks up on stuff from dealers all around the U.S., Chicago area yard sales, and even their customer base, who are occasionally willing to sell or trade in an item to the store. Regardless of how they get it, you’re in for a fantastic time and a great selection. If you’ve got a soft spot in your heart for all things 80s, I must offer up a preliminary bit of advice. Either bring extra cash or make sure you’ve got plenty of credit line available because YOU WILL come out of the store with an armload of swanky retro swag.
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