Over the weekend on a visit to Kenosha, I accidentally bumped into Bjorn’s Clothing Store and Museum, described as the “anti-mall, un-Wal-Mart”. Owner Mike Bjorn’s “Tuxedo Wonder Museum” is just that, a true curiosity. All surfaces in the old Kresge’s dime store are covered with random and absurd things; a skeleton riding on a bicycle hangs from the ceiling, plastic aliens greet you at the door, 95 cent Ralph Marlin ties sit on a rack, matches that supposedly blew up the Hindenberg are on display. Then there’s the “Wall of Shame”, which is made of coat hangers and newspaper clippings from stores that have gone out of his business. Every color and combination of tuxedo imaginable is available for rent. You can try on clothes in one of the themed fitting rooms. While the “Princess Di” is the most popular, the “Over-18” is more interesting with pictures of the “special ladies” of former U.S. Presidents.
Numerous gilded plastic penguin statues sit on the store’s roof. When taking a picture of these spray-painting creations that sat on a garbage can outside the store, Bjorn yelled at me, “Yay! I’m finally famous!”
Opened thirty years ago, Bjorn decided to turn his store into a tourist attraction to display his kitschy personality. “To most other people it looks like junk, but I saw it and said hey, we can have some fun with that…If the day ever comes when you can’t walk into a place like this, as a human race we’re finished.” Exactly. Where else in the world can you try on a sports coat with a taxidermed duck and Pee-Wee Herman doll staring down at you?