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WTF is Odd Mart and Why Are the Monsters Chewing Gum?

It's not just a store, it's a performance piece with lore. Also, T-shirts.

Odd Mart on Instagram (@oddmartmn)

It’s staring me right in the eye. But where do I stare back? The left eye? The right eye? Or the middle one?

This three-eyed green monster is making its presence known in Odd Mart, a south Minneapolis retail shop/art installation that recently opened on 2520 Lyndale Ave. Store owner Brad McGinty likes the unusual things in life and, after doing 12 years of mail-order art, apparel, and stickers, he decided a brick-and-mortar location was the way to go.

Makenzi Johnson

“I’m from Atlanta, but have been here for about 12 years and love this area,” McGinty says. “I wanted to put something fun in the neighborhood.”

According to lore, McGinty became the owner and CEO of GLORP Gum in 2012. In the cleverly curated (completely made up) fable, GLORP Gum was originally designed as a gum to be used as a motion sickness remedy during WWII. A queasy fighter jet pilot could chew a wad of GLORP, and if that didn’t hold the puke back, the T-shirt that came with “each and every piece of gum” could soak up any airborne vomit. 

Nowadays, GLORP is less focused on preventing motion sickness and more so on cool art. McGinty creates crazy characters and products that reference/parody old-school candy brands, from Bazooka Joe and its comics-covered gum wrappers to an iconic 1970 Tootsie Pop commercial. In GLORP’s take on the cartoon, their three-eyed monster eats the child.

There are also some callbacks to Stanley Mouse’s monster art, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles strip, and Garbage Pail Kids cards.   

The wacky branding includes GLORP Gum’s “original” business motto: “The only gum that comes with a free T-shirt!” It’s a peculiar way of selling merchandise, but the folks who stop into the shop on Sunday afternoon seem to enjoy it. 

“I didn’t know this place existed until now, but I love it,” says one mildly confused shopper. 

Makenzi Johnson

At the front of the store, you’ll find all things GLORP Gum as well as other pieces from McGinty. There’s a wall of T-shirts, which come “free” when you purchase a $28 gumball. There are also coin machines where you can walk away with a mystery sticker or patch, and zombie-like figurines of My Little Pony dolls. Off to the side, one room is filled with comics and other print items, and another offers vintage goodies like posters, ceramic figurines, mugs that say “my mommy is a hottie,” and screenprints of McGinty’s art. 

Much like the Sante Fe-based Meow Wolf, Odd Mart lives at the intersection of art and consumerism. The small storefront isn’t solely a merchandise store, it’s both an art installation and a commercial space. In a late-stage capitalism world, the museum and the gift shop are one; Odd Mart is a gallery space but also a point of sale. 

Makenzie Johnson

And like Meow Wolf, McGinty frequently shares his space with local artists. Odd Mart employee Sophia Vasquez is an artist as well, and is in the process of getting her work in-store. “I feel like you don’t often see all of these things in one combined space,” Vasquez says of the shop’s eclectic offerings. “There’s a weird artists’ collective going on here.”  

There is also a back room reserved for events; last weekend there was an art fest where local artists could rent a booth for the afternoon. Next Saturday, November 18, Odd Mart is hosting a ceramics market, and a vinyl record show is scheduled for December 6. 

Odd Mart
Where: 2520 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
When: Open noon to 6 p.m. daily

Makenzie Johnson

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