Tuesday, November 5, 2013
I am on a trip to Wales for a horror film festival in Abertoir but along the way I was finally able to visit the Hoxton Street Monster Supply Shop.
Last year I went to the United Kingdom to see "Re-Animator The Musical" at Fringe in Scotland and to attend Fright Fest in London. One of the things on my to-do list was to visit Hoxton Street Monster Supplies: Purveyor of Quality Goods for Monsters of Every Kind.
I had found them online but they did not ship their marvelous items to the U.S., items like a tin of A Vague Sense of Unease or Olde Fashion Brain Jam. So when I was in London I eagerly looked them up but when I called they said they were renovating and were closed. I was crushed.
This year when I arrived in London I was determined to visit them. My friends from Wales picked me up at Heathrow and we headed toward Hoxton Street. The shop closed at 5 p.m. and it was already past 4 p.m. We hustled and arrived with five minutes to spare. If I got my foot in the door, there was no way they would get me out.
I came simply to shop for monster supplies but was thrilled when the man in the shop gave me an introduction to all they do (watch the video of his delightful sales pitch).
He told me the shop opened more than a century ago but initially only catered to monsters. Humans, he noted, enter the shop at their own risk. Among the wonderful items were a jar of Daylight for Vampires who want just a hint of exposure to the warm rays without igniting and cookbooks with monster recipes.
All this is clever enough but what makes it all even better is that the Monster Supplies is run by the Ministry of Stories, a non-profit organization that uses the shop to raise money for their creative writing program for kids.
Here's how the organization describes itself:
"The Ministry of Stories is a creative writing and mentoring centre for young people in east London. We use storytelling to inspire young people aged 8-18, in the belief that writing unleashes their imaginations and builds confidence, self-respect and communication.
Nick Hornby, Lucy Macnab and Ben Payne founded the Ministry of Stories in 2010. In its first year, over 3000 young people took part in our volunteer-led workshops and writing projects. Our inspiration came from the writer Dave Eggers and educator Ninive Calegari, who opened a shop for pirates and writing centre called 826 Valencia in San Francisco."
So inside your tin of Escalating Panic you will also find a story by one of the children or you can purchase a book of recipes with stories and illustrations by the young participants in the program.
Everything about this place was a wicked delight and inspired me to consider opening my own shop in the U.S. If I can tap into our local monster demographic and manage to keep some free range humans in stock.