Rag Men come and go in our business but there are some people who have a true passion for the nostalgic and vision to bring it to the masses in interesting ways. From opening up Generation Cool Snack Bar / Arcade / Boutique to brainchilding Vintagecon this dude is making his mark on the vintage scene.
Meet Slobby Robby out of Tucson Arizona.
Tell us about the concept behind Generation Cool?
Generation Cool is a 80’s/90’s popular culture boutique. If it was cool during those two decades, we sell it. From toys to sneakers to video games to jerseys to VHS tapes, we have it. We also have an in store arcade and snack bar. The concept is to provide a place to experience all the nostalgia of those eras in an interactive retail environment.
Why did you choose to become a rag man?
The thrill of the chase. For me going out digging for old stuff is pretty much the most exciting feeling in the world. I love the anticipation and the process of the search even more than the glory of the find. To spend hours and hours finding that one thing that makes you a weeks living... It’s like the modern day version of an actual treasure hunt. What’s more fun than that?
Talk about the point when you became interested in vintage clothing?
I think I first started obsessing over vintage my freshman year of high school. I was dating this girl who had all these fly Adidas jumpsuits and it blew my mind. She started taking me to this dumpy thrift store around the corner from our high school where lots of sporty retiree types would donate. She showed me the light. In no time I was scooping tracksuits and vintage sneakers on like a weekly basis. It was cheaper than the mall and no one had the same gear as you. Win/win situation. After getting heavy into collecting I eventually got into reselling the stuff to vintage stores and on eBay. Been really into this shit ever since.
What was the craziest piece you have ever found?
Oh man, I used to go to the Swap Meet every single Friday night. I especially liked to frequent one particular seller who I still buy from today. We call him the Grumpy Old Man (he will yell at you and kick you out for haggling or asking too many questions or even taking too long to shop) he has a permanent garage there, all the best stuff too. I still don’t understand where he gets it. Anyway, one night we were leaving in a hurry and I realized I had forgotten to stop at the Grumpy Old Man spot. So I ran back in there panting and frantically started going through his stuff. Right when I was about to leave with nothing I noticed a jersey mixed in on the tee shirt rack and grabbed it. It ended up being a game worn 1967 Ernie Banks Chicago Cubs wool jersey for 10 dollars. Bare in mind this was 1999 so before Mitchell & Ness got big and before any sort of retro jersey crazes so I had a feeling it was the real deal right when I saw it. It’s since been authenticated and is still in my closet to this day. It’s not for sale by the way! I’ve found nice Gucci and Versace and rare Polo but nothing has ever been quite as exhilarating as that find.
Do you think the popularity of using vintage inspiration in todays street wear brands is good or bad for the vintage business?
I think street wear brands re appropriating vintage designs and styles is both good and bad. On one hand it’s cool because I can teach a customer about how his tee is a rip of the old Adidas Ewing logo and start a conversation and even sell them or turn them onto a vintage Ewing piece. Essentially then getting someone who was uneducated about vintage interested in original vintage joints. On the other hand, certain styles and looks that used to be harder to obtain or even be aware of are now available to the everyday consumer in street style form. A good example of that would be the Versace Medusa image which has been bastardized and beat to death over the last 10 years in street wear. At Generation Cool we pride ourselves on giving our customers a unique look and if some street wear brand is pumping out a re make or remix of one of our OG pieces then I do think that can take away from value and coolness of that original piece. All of a sudden you are dealing with a consumer who is wondering why the “old” piece costs more then the “new” version and that can get confusing for the customer. I think when all is said and done it’s alright because in most cases it brings forgotten or under rated looks and imagery back into the public eye. I like to mix street wear with vintage in my own style on a daily basis so I can’t really hate that’s for sure.
What do you personally collect or gravitate towards?
I’ve pretty much dedicated my life to collecting all the things I had and loved when I was kid as well as the stuff I wanted when I was young and never got. I want all the shit the rich kids and drug dealers had that my mom couldn’t afford hahaha. Not so coincidentally, most of the things we sell in the store are the things I’m into. I collect a lot things that would be considered 80s/90s street fashion classics. Champion jerseys, Starter jerseys, Cazal glasses, Coogi sweaters, Adidas Jumpsuits etc. Sneakers are really fun to collect for me personally. Theres just so much out there and its such a rich community, I love going to sneaker conventions. I fuck with Bo Jacksons (Air Trainers) super hard. I also go for Agassis, Air Max, vintage Adidas and of course Air Jordans 3-5. That’s about it. I stay in my lane with shoes man. I’m a pretty rabid vintage upscale collector as well. I’m after everything MCM ever made in the Cognac Visetos collection. I’m a big fan of older Gucci stuff as well. I have a huge toy collection... I wouldn’t know where to begin or end with that. I straight up want it all when it comes to 80’s toys. From classics like He Man and rubber WWF dudes to weird stuff like Inflatables. I just want all of it. Toys are easy and fun to collect because you can find them for a quarter, most people aren’t very educated about old toys so you can really come up sometimes. I’m most obsessive with my Champion jersey and Starter Jersey collections. Like I want every version of every single team ever made. Everybody out there hit me up with those Champion jerseys in 52 and those starter pinstripes in XL!!!
What is in store for you and Generation Cool?
As far as the store, we are in the process of opening our second location in Phoenix right now. That will happen within the next year with plans to expand to both coasts after that. We are also launching our own line of cut and sew shorts called “Eat My Shorts” which are all over print shorts made with vintage bed sheets. We are also in the beginning stages of creating our own in house snack foods. So GC brand soda, chips, popsicles etc that are secretly healthy...we are super stoked on that for sure!
Can you talk about your new project Vintage Con?
Yes. We are getting set to announce that officially at the end of the summer. The idea is pretty straight forward, a yearly vintage convention with vendors and attendees from around the world complete with guest speakers, events and panels. The vintage version of ComicCon. The purpose is to not only get all the vintage heads in one place and sell to the public but also to celebrate and educate about vintage culture in general. The first Vintage Con will take place in Phoenix in Spring of 2016. Of course it will be hosted by myself and Generation Cool and feature all the big names in the vintage world. Hopefully headlined by FAIF! Hahaha!
First and foremost I wanna shout out my co owner and co founder DJ Sid the Kid. This store would not exist without him. From doing the books to restoring sneakers dude is a beast and always handles his shit.
I also wanna shout out my OG Roaring Lenny from Cotton Picker Vintage out in Vegas, dude has taught me so much and given me lots of good advice along the way.
Lastly, shout out to all my fellow WWVSE members. For those who don’t know the World Wide Vintage Snapback Exchange is an online community made up of some of the most knowledgable and serious vintage collectors in the world. I learn new things from all those dudes everyday not to mention how much they help me feed all my collections. Big up to them.
Shouts to F as in Frank for having me too!!!