LEEDERVILLE’S pop-culture emporium Black Plastic has just about grown up and turned 30.
Owner Paul FitzRoy opened the shop in 1987, and instead of doing extensive customer research, he just filled his shelves with items he liked, including quirky cards, movie figurines and odd gifts.
Asked what the overall theme of Black Plastic is, FitzRoy replies “It’s me, I guess”.
It was touch and go in the early days when his shop was located outside of the main retail zone in Oxford Street, across from the Tafe.
He still has the outgoings book from those days, and in one of the early weeks he made just $26.
“In 1987 some days I was finishing the day up with no sales, or other days going home with $9.95 in my pocket,” FitzRoy says.
“I remember going in to my sister’s room asking for any coins laying around so I could pay the rent.”
Back then he was working at The Duck Inn in Subiaco, washing dishes and saving money to buy stock.
Over the years the shop has moved five times to different spots in Leederville.
“My card says I’m ‘deep in the heart of Leederville’,” he says.
“I love it, it’s an urban village feel.”
The business has gone in cycles: from the $26 weeks early on, then going great guns about six or eight years ago, during the boom times, and quieting down recently.
He used to do a roaring trade in movie posters, but they’ve fallen out of vogue.
“The shop’s evolved a lot over the years,” Mr FitzRoy says.
The name Black Plastic was chosen because “I always wanted to open a record store,” but for most of the shop’s life he’s not actually sold records.
Greeting cards and birthday cards are still doing a healthy trade, one of the sectors that hasn’t been taken over by internet sellers.
And there’s always keen Star Wars fans who want a sweet Boba Fett mannequin or Yoda figurine.
After 30 years surrounded by miniature aliens, six-inch Terminator figurines, and bobble-headed fictional serial killers, Mr FitzRoy says: “Why keep doing it? Pride, stupidity.”
“I still love it.
“I’ve made some incredible friends out of this shop and met some great people.”
by DAVID BELL