perhaps one of the most interesting retail establishments in seattle. until recently, archie mcphee & company was located in seattle's fremont district. the former location was a virtual palace of silliness, and bagels and coffee were available to customers. they have since moved, and i have a distressing lack of information about their new digs.

archie mcphee specializes in strange toys and other objects. as their website (www.archiemcphee.com) puts it:
Looking for cool toys and gifts? If so, Archie McPhee is your mecca! For 18 years Archie McPhee has supplied toys and gifts for popular culture. Escape the soulless junk offered in shopping malls and enjoy some high-quality, high-concept fun with Archie McPhee.

their top 12 best selling items, at the time of this writeup, are
they also offer items catered specifically to the geek contigent, such as the radar robot and liquid ram.

though the website is full of interesting nonsense and carefully goofy descriptions, the tactile experience is not to be missed. it's very possible to get lost wandering through the aisles upon aisles of junk archie mcphee offers, and to enjoy it utterly. archie mcphee and company is to toys as powell's is to books.
Though it sounds a bit like a fake name, there apparently really was an Archie McPhee. According to the Archie McPhee website (http://www.archiemcphee.com/info/history.html), he was the great-uncle-in-law of the current owner of the company. In 1924, he traveled to China and Japan with a jazz band he formed called the North Star Music Makers. Since he was only the band's manager, passage for him was not booked aboard the S.S. President Madison, but one of the ship's firemen never showed up for the trip, so Archie took his job shoveling coal into the ship's furnaces. He managed the band from the hold of the ship.

After playing gigs at hotels and cafes in Shanghai, Kobe, Yokohama, and Manila, the band was offered a six-month contract playing at the Army and Navy Club in the Philippines. After that, they went home.

The website never explains why this particular escapade made him worthy of having a pop-kitsch toy store named after him.

Addendum: Demeter informs me that Archie McPhee was the name of the campy chef in the kitschy British soap opera "Crossroads". This may be the true origin of the store's name...

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