Mod a-go-go | Mid-Mod Swank

10/22/2014 |
Kerri Fukui


South Temple is clearly one of SLC's best streets. Don't bother arguing. Massive trees lining an avenue that's absolutely filthy with historic mansions and some of our city's most beautiful churches; the charm is palpable. Goes without saying, then, that tastefully working a bit of retail [or any new venture, for that matter] into the mix is likely to be a tough gig [that some have straight-up botched]. Enter: Mod a-go-go. Looks like she was downright made for our favorite thoroughfare, we tell you. Take a cruise in the evening hours; just look at her, lighting up the lane all belle-of-the-ball style. Ten bucks says you'll have your nose pressed to the glass inside the first thirty seconds.

It's precisely what Eric Morley and Marcus Gibby, owners of the shop, intended for this space. Initially, they had other digs picked out, but then they saw this; a box of windows perched justly on South Temple between 200 and 300 East. A dreamy and perfectly-placed showroom, the likes of which seem an impossible find for an enterprise as theirs. Mod a-go-go is consignment with class and mid-mod with mad druthers. Two more of our city's dedicated entrepreneurs doing what they can to give locals a shot at the swanky style of the 50s and 60s. "Those decades," says Eric, "were about image and class and presentation. Homes, interiors, cars…they were designed with purpose, rather than mass production in mind." Amen, brother. Don't make shit like they used to. Between the marvels they find themselves and consigners, the pair are bringing in new inventory nearly every day.

Mod a-go-go is good if you're looking for that coveted davenport that your great aunt kept covered in clear plastic. Or the pair of mid-century side tables that work just perfectly with your newly-acquired Nelson Bubble lamps. Or that one-off lamp that you won't find elsewhere, hanging precariously over the dining set of your dreams. But also: art. In a major way, it's good for art. This is where the boys of Mod a-go-go have set themselves apart. The store itself is curated in order to compliment the art, rather than the other way around [in the end, both aspects work equally well for the other]. And from whence do the works come? Emerging local artists. Good peeps that Eric and Marcus wanted to support however they could. The mediums throughout the shop are varied--pop art, pottery, abstract, prints. As they've so aptly noted, "Why buy art from a big-box store, when you can have a unique, well-priced, original piece from a local artist?" #truth And what started as a small handful of talents has turned into over 60, each of which has found Mod a-go-go via word of mouth. In fact, since opening, two featured artists and one furniture maker have seen such success that they've been able to give their full-time jobs the bird and focus solely on their craft. It's a gravy train is likely due--at least in part--the the myriad events hosted in the shop. They're bonafide members of gallery stroll [yay!], and in any given month you'll find these two busy birds hosting no less than a thousand events. Hectic? Obviously. The occasional tiff in Trader Joe's parking lot during these stressful times? Maybe. But they've found a rhythm, and their proverbial dance card is absolutely full.

Mod a-go-go | 242 E South Temple | 801.355.3334


Why mid-century modern? How did you come to know and love this era and style of design? Since Marcus was in high school, he obsessed with architecture and design from the 50’s and 60’s.  Marcus is an artist and often referenced the clean lines and unique styles, from the era, when creating new pieces of artwork.  The materials, colors, and simplistic sophistication inspired him creatively and he even carried around images in his wallet, that he tore from magazines.  When the two of us met, Marcus’ house was decorated ina very minimalist manner, incorporating cohesive colors and stylish pieces that had a fun and trendy look. When we decided to move in together, we both started sharing in the passion as we began hunting for pieces of our own.  We joked that most couples would go to a bar, restaurant or movie for dates.  Marcus and I would go “picking.”  We would try to find the perfect pieces and we eventually discovered that we had a talent for distinguishing junk from treasures.  As a result, what started out as a fun date night, turned into obsession.  As we expanded our own, personal collection, Marcus expanded his artistic talents from paintings to living spaces.

How do you choose your pieces? Where do you get them? Are estate sales a bread-and-butter sort of deal, or is it a far more complicated beast than that would suggest? This is most common question we get at Mod a-go-go.  Initially, when we opened, it was a lot of “hitting the pavement” and driving around to neighborhood yard sales.  You can’t imagine how exhausting that can be, working at the store all day, then going picking in the mornings and evenings.  Since opening however, we now receive a lot of referrals and people coming to us to either consign or sell a piece.  Happily, more and more, the pieces come to us, instead of us having to go hunting.  We still have to hunt, from time-to-time, but we’ve built some great relationships with other people in the vintage furniture markets.  It’s like any other business industry, really.  There are a lot of networks and contacts.  We just had to talk to the right people and make the right connections.  Now, we’re able to access furniture a more easily than when we first opened.

Mid-mod is, in our opinion, is a timeless wonder that we'll forever be smitten with, but it's obviously experiencing a major surge right now. What do you think is next? We would love for mid-mod design to always remain “a-go-go.”  Sadly, we know that styles and tastes change.  It’s that change that made all of these amazing pieces irrelevant, for so many years.  We’re happy that it’s the current trend, but that will wane, in time. We have a lot of interior designers who frequent Mod a-go-go.  We always try to chat with them and understand their opinions of current trends.  We’ve also built some relationships with similar shops from around the country.  As you speak to design acquainted people, and look at current design publications, we’re already starting to notice evolution from a strict mid-mod décor.  Designers are now beginning to incorporate industrial design with the mid-century modern.  We’ve been experimenting with that trend and have sold every industrial piece that we’ve introduced to the shop.  In fact, Marcus is currently working on converting a really cool, IV medical cart into an awesome bar. Another advantage we have at Mod a-go-go, is that we’re Salt Lake City’s home for handcrafted, locally made, furniture.  By keeping an inventory of locally made furniture, we can always stay on the edge of innovation. Our local designers can instantly pivot with the trends and introduce new pieces that can be customized for the customer’s needs. This also ensures that Mod a-go-go has furniture that you’re definitely not going to find anywhere else, in the city.  Some of our most regular furniture and lighting designers are Jered Gatone, Michael Begue and Josh Marans.

You've aligned yourselves with some stellar, local artists, whose works dot your walls at all times. Tell us about that. We’re passionate about art and honestly love our artists. We have such an incredible family of artists who help to make Mod a-go-go what it is.  Creating a home for local artists was the genesis of Mod a-go-go .  We wanted a home for up-and-coming artists that wasn’t bound by the rules, restrictions, waiting lists, portfolio and reputation requirements of other galleries.  We wanted to be different.  We are different.  We carry anything from movie themed fan art to non-reputational abstracts.  Our art tends to be more contemporary in style, which suits our customers, who are looking for something new and exciting in their living spaces.

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