Heading east on Highway 64 last Thursday a banner waving in the sunlight caught my eye. It was something I had not seen in many years. A tie dyed peace symbol wafted gently in the breeze in front of a small strip mall.
Curiosity got the best of me and I had to pull in to take a closer look. I found myself sitting in front of a store called “hippie geek, peddler of goods”. I stepped inside and was instantly transported back to the late 60’s or early 70’s.
The store appeared to have not been open long, the shelves and hangers not all full. On one side of the store a slender fellow with a ball cap pulled down over long blondish hair pulled back into a pony tail was unloading tie dyed tee shirts from a box and hanging them up.
What fascinated me about this place was not only the feeling of returning to my hippie dippy childhood days, but that anyone would have the guts to open a small business in the current tax and spend climate we all exist in.
Daren Eggert is a 41 year old native Memphian and the proprietor and operator of hippie geek. I spoke to him for a few minutes then bought a very reasonably priced shoulder bag before I departed. I returned the next day, notebook in hand to interview Daren. He was quite amiable about answering my questions.
I first asked him what would posses someone to even try to open his own small business under the circumstances we currently face. He gave me a wry laugh and said, “Well, I’ve worked for myself for most of my life and have discovered that I work best when I work for myself. Just part of the rebellious side of me I guess.”
Daren went on to tell me that the hippie geek is the culmination of a dream long in the making. He began to plan this venture about ten years ago and only in the last two years begun the actual leg work to make his dream a reality. The hippie geek opened just this year on the 1st of February. When asked if this store was part of a chain, Daren told me that he hoped it would be the first store in the part of a chain.
The hippie geek carries a wide variety of clothing, jewelry, incense, posters, and products made from hemp fiber. Over 50% of the products sold are eco friendly or made from recycled materials. The store is located at 7395 US Highway 64 in Memphis. They also have a website at www.hippiegeek.net with an on line catalog featuring many of the items in stock as well as additional information about the store such as their hours of operation.
While politicians wrangle about the best way to save or create jobs, it is people like Daren and the other small business owners that actually create jobs for themselves and others. So stop in sometime and step back in time to Abbey Road and Woodstock. Please wish Daren the best of luck, and remember, make love not war.