On the list of things I only recently found out about this town is that it’s kind of a world headquarters for plush, which is shorthand for soft, handmade, character- or concept-driven often adorable but just as often creepy or sinister “toys” that are not meant for children.
And Schmancy, that tiny but wonderful little “toy” shop on Second Ave, is like a Mecca for plush lovers. Seriously. People come from Austin, LA, Amsterdam, and beyond each year when owner Kristen Rask celebrates with Plush You!, a carefully curated soft art exhibit of the best of the best. This year’s get-down gets down with an October 8 opening party from 5 to 9; the show runs for a month at the triumvirate of indie-cool: Schmancy, Fancy, and Nancy.
I recently spoke to Rask about her life — I mean, people often comment that I seem to have a cool job, but this is a woman who spends her days with bunnies in swim suits and toy tater tots. Kinda trumps us all, eh? But Rask never really meant to do it.
When she started Schmancy she was selling action-figure stuff — “toys” not meant for kids, but more along the lines of miniature mutant superheros and Japanese anime-style molded plastic dolls. After awhile the whole made in China thing started to bum her out, and it didn’t really mesh with what her coconspirators at Fancy and Nancy were doing. Handmade, that is. Small-batch. So she switched to the soft arts, and in 2005 created a world-wide sensation with her annual art show.
Rask’s Plush You! blog chronicles the fervor and the fun, and the slideshow here shows off a few of my favorites, but you’d have to be there yourself next week to really grasp the sensation of it all. Passersby will probably mistake it for a reunion appearance of the Rolling Stones at the nearby Moore Theatre. Seriously.