It’s been 30 years spent celebrating the subversive world of punk, post-punk, and anything wildly alternative at Omaha’s Drastic Plastic, fittingly placed in the Old Market.
Owner Mike Howard has an undying attraction to music, especially punk and its many subgenres. Howard was working in Denver in the 70s, heard the Sex Pistols and tossed his classic rock albums in the trash according to manager Neil Azevedo. His conviction to music has led to the progress Drastic Plastic exudes today.
Howard had tried running a record store in Kansas City with his brother. When plans didn’t work out, Howard and his brother split the vinyl collection in half, and Howard came to Omaha said Azevedo. Howard was not able to provide a comment for the article.
Before there were any Hot Topics in Omaha, Drastic Plastic catered leather cuffs, studded bracelets, spiked jewelry, neon hair dye and cult-classic accessories to the “misfits” of Omaha.
It was the only place in the city to find music, accessories and clothing that channeled a presence of goth, punk, grunge, rock and indie to Omaha, a city that perhaps needed a push in the countercultural direction. To this day the store often attracts customers who love music that’s a little older, because good music is timeless, right?
Older people, younger people, pierced people, business people, and people clad in everything from pink to midnight black visit the store, but they’re all seeking that same frequency of alternative culture thriving at Drastic.
The store originally opened in 1982 near 24th and M. According to Azevedo, there were no perks to the old location, so Howard was more than chipper about moving to the Old Market later that year.
Drastic Plasitc has taken a hit from the digital age where music is downloaded rather than bought, as have most record stores. “These aren’t the days where you hear a song on the radio then go buy the actual vinyl,” said Azevedo.
In fact, their vinyl selection has cleared out a bit over the decades. People just aren’t buying actual vinyl unless they are part of the loyal following which seems to keep Drastic Plastic in steady business.
Omaha seems to go haywire over a couple of albums which have stood the test of time. Avezedo explained the Misfits and their entire discography have been a constant hit along with Minor Threat’s library. The chugging guitars of Nevermind the Bullocks by the Sex Pistols seemingly lost somewhere in London rumbling like an anarchical anthem seem to pervade Drastic Plastic’s fans as well.
That’s not all Drastic has had up their sleeves since 1982. The store always carried shirts, and Howard had always expected success said Avezedo. In the early 90s, Impact Merchandising began working with Drastic, implementing more apparel in the store, which has become a strong foundation of the store’s sales.
Avezedo had been a customer fond of the store in his high school days, but in 2007 his brother with close ties to the store spread word it may close.
Avezedo knew he could save the business with Impact Merchandising, by changing the retail and broadening the market. Luckily, it worked as Avezedo came on-board in 2007 via Impact Merchandising.
Employees all share the same drive and connection to music. Donna Cassarello is a current employee at Drastic. Cassarello said, “I’ve always loved punk rock and the history of the store. It’s what drew me and keeps me here.”
They even get the opportunity to meld their creative input into original shirt designs, overseen by Impact Merchandising. “It’s fun to see the ideas materialize,” said Cassarello.
Come celebrate 30 years of Drastic’s place in alternative subculture at the Waiting Toom on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. OFF! Is supported by the Spits and Double Negative. The concert will be full-throttle and ready for a riled-up crowd!
So if you’re looking for The Clash on vinyl, some Joy Division posters, a Siouxsie and the Banshees shirt, some neon hair dye or Jack Skellington bobbleheads, Drastic Plastic is the gem in the Old Market for you.