August 3, 2014 at 3:06 AM
Every day is now Halloween in Lansdale.
With sharp machete in hand, Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. grabbed the yellow caution tape plastered over the entrance to Suite 3B in Dresher Arcade at 317 W. Main St. and hacked away.
Jason Voorhees would be so proud.
Castor Jr., along with Lansdale Mayor Andy Szekely, welcomed the bizarre, the odd and the macabre to the small business community Friday night with the grand opening of Creepy Girls Crafts & Curios, an event that drew more than 300 browsers and shoppers curious about what the team of Kris McMaster, Lizzy Neuman, Sumerlyn Witsen and Aubrey Gordon brought to town. The free WiFi and free beer also helped.
"I wasn't expecting this many people to come out," McMaster said. "A lot of people on Facebook were really interested, and I've been keeping my hopes up all week."
To the crafty quartet, the bizarre is beautiful, the salvaged is affordable and the macabre is money.
"On behalf of the Borough of Lansdale, welcome. You are a new addition here, in a much-needed space in Dresher Aracde," Szekely said at the ribbon, um, hacking. "Thank you for investing in the town."
"On behalf of the County of Montgomery, the same," Castor Jr. said.
Think of the shop as "American Pickers" and "Flea Market Flip" meet "Oddities." Its upcycled wares reflect the artists' varied tastes, from Neuman's love of anatomically-correct embroidery to McMaster's Victorian Era-meets-Leatherface creations.
"It's surreal," McMaster said of having her own shop. "The overall goal of my art career was to open a shop. I was not sure what it was going to be, but I found it."
"I'm happy a lot of local people came out and supported us," Neuman said.
McMaster said the reaction Friday night was very positive.
"Who knew so many people in Lansdale love weird things?" she said.
The local punk scene looks to be a big benefit for Creepy Girls, she said.
"We will focus on online sales and traveling shows, which is what we've been doing," McMaster said. "We are having a big to-do for Lansdale Bike Night."
Neuman said Creepy Girls is a definite benefit to the community.
"We are providing something nobody else has right now. It plays to a younger demographic," Neuman said. "I think people of all ages will really enjoy it."
McMaster and Neuman emphasized that Creepy Girls is family-friendly: No profanity, pornography or occult items allowed.
"I think people will be attracted not just because of their curiosity, but just the fact that we cater to families," McMaster, a mother to a toddler, said. "It's safe to bring the kids in, and that's a big plus for parents in the area."
Both owners were appreciative of Castor Jr. and Szekely coming out to their grand opening during Lansdale's First Friday.
"It was pretty awesome. I don't know (Castor Jr.) personally, and I wasn't sure if he would be weirded out, but he seemed very interested in everything we had on display," McMaster said. "His daughter is interested in this work as well."
For seven months, Creepy Girls Crafts & Curios existed in the homes and apartments of its creators, where they produced everything from housewares and framed antiques to custom jewelry and decor incorporating taxidermy and osteology.
In that time, McMaster also created the NeverDead Florals brand. Wedding and anniversary orders for custom arrangements using color paper, burlap, vintage brooches, lace, ribbon and old music sheets keep on coming.
Their creations have left lasting impressions on public and press alike: Philly.com named Creepy Girls Crafts and Curios one of the top 15 vendors at June's Philadelphia Punk Rock Flea Market.
"Kris was the complete drive through all of this," said Neuman, a cancer researcher who befriended McMaster during their time at Souderton Area High School. "I met her in 10th Grade, and I knew, seeing her art, she would do something good. I'm happy to be a part of it."
McMaster's husband and co-owner Keith Heffintrayer said they were grateful that Castor Jr., Szekely, Lansdale Borough Council President Jason Van Dame and borough Councilman Ray Liberto were able to attend the grand opening and show their support of small business.
"We're just ecstatic with the way everything turned out," he said. "Aside from the abundance of weird stuff, I think the Brushes and Booze will work out well. And we're already seeing a hit in NeverDead Floral."
Van Dame said he was happy to see a new business come to town, especially one ran by young people.
"I think there are a lot of good things going on in Lansdale, and a lot of positive developments are coming to town. Council is focused on trying to help businesses out in town whenever we can," he said.
Heffintrayer, who sits on the borough Communication Commission, said Lansdale was the perfect niche market to open an oddities store. In the same Dresher Arcade area, there is a comic book niche being filled by Comic Archive, a theatrical makeup niche being filled by Delia's Makeup and Theatrical Supplies, and a yoga niche in The Center for Longevity, he said. Down the street there is a tattoo niche represented by Red Lotus and even a brewery niche fulfilled by Round Guys Brewery, he said.
"This is how a town can define itself outside of the huge chains and establishments. It is the way the borough is going to turn itself around," he said. "There's a renaissance now and we're happy to be a part of it."