We were located at 3228 North Clark Street, and our stores encompassed the corners of Belmont & Clark in the Chicago area known as Lakeview, 1 block West of Boystown, and 5 blocks South of Wrigley Field.
The Alley Chicago through years of dedication and determination has become the Midwest's premier one stop shop for bikers, punks, goths, rockers, and all other alternative lifestyles. The Owner, Mark Thomas, often states, "The more things change, the more they remain the same." This holds true for our core customer base and our store philosophy. Faces change, trends change, but who we are and who our core customer is will always remain the same.
We believe that fashion is a part of one's identity and self expression. The Alley Chicago has been in business for over 3 decades. There are very few mom and pop stores that exist today that can say this. This is not just a lifestyle, this is our life.
The History of The Alley Chicago
Picture in your mind, 1971. 1971 was a crazy year. The Vietnam War was on everyone's mind. Kids were being drafted, others were protesting. Jim Morrison was found dead in his bathtub, and The New York Dolls were starting their career in New York City. The unmistakable sounds of legendary rock bands such as Black Sabbath, AC/DC, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Kiss, and Aerosmith piped through the airwaves. The seventies was the beginning of the Me Generation, and also the Sexual Revolution.
It was on a cold Thursday, December 16th to be exact, that a cocky 17 year old kid found his way into the posh Oak Trust & Savings Bank (located at Oak and Rush Street) and purchased a $1725 cashier check with money that was earmarked for his college education. He had the cashier's check made out to an Ed Johnson. This cocky kid (Mark Thomas) already had 1 failed business (which was a candle making business) 3 months earlier under his belt. He had big dreams for himself in the business world. With this cashier's check, he negotiated and purchased a jewelry casting business and this is where the story began...35 years later...it continues today. Mark started with a little business called Excalibur Products. And then it became Liberty Trading, Excaliber Studios, and Fashion Victim soon followed. He sold his wares to anyone who would buy them, sometimes even out of the trunk of his car! He believed that when one door closes, another one is always open. He never gave up. This cocky kid had huge dreams of conquering the business world, and while some of his outlandish dreams went unfulfilled, overall he has succeeded beyond everyone's expectations.
One day, a new opportunity presented itself...and that is how a little shop known as The Alley came into being. It was his vision to house the most kick @ss rock, biker, punk, glam, rock and hippie gear and accessories. He had enormous ideas, and his ideas soon overtook the corner of Belmont and Clark Streets. His stores today encompass an area 40,000 square feet and offers a huge array of leather, shoes, clothing, belt buckles, piercing jewelry, rock n' roll memorabilia, tattoo flash art, accessories, eccentric home decor, unique sterling silver jewelry, and items for the person who has it all.
The Alley has become a legend. No other independently owned rock n' roll shop has ever achieved the notoriety, success and longevity that he has achieved. While other businesses like his grew stagnant, and closed shop, Mark has managed to grow and stay on top of all the obscure and alternative trends.
The Alley stores have dressed the youth of yesterday and the youth of today. Mark often brags that "his store is where your parents, and even grandparents shopped". His merchandise now reflects the cutting edge in punk, Goth, glam, emo, mod, rockabilly, alternative, biker, and rock gear. Throughout all of his success, he has maintained true to his own identity, and you can still find him barking orders behind the counters, or in the store wearing his black jeans, black shirt, leather vest, pony tail, and outrageous biker rings. He is living proof that you don't have to compromise your identity to make your dreams come true.
The owner to this day, still travels all over the world to bring unique items to you, our customer! He literally travels over 100,000 miles a year between visiting vendors, trade-shows, and just staying on top of the competition worldwide. His concept has always been, "If I can't find it, I'll make it!" The Alley Chicago is open 365 days a year to serve your rock n' roll needs!!!
You can contact us by email at: The Alley Chicago