By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
The Lower Mainland is not home to many unique collectables shops. For horror entertainment, Netherworld Collectables in New Westminster, BC is the place to go. On Saturday, Feb 16th, the shop will be celebrating its 6th anniversary! Confirmed are appearances from actress Tristan Risk, burlesque dancer Jacqueline Breakwell, and actor Mike Kovac (to name a few) and many other surprises to come.
Darryl Gasbarri is a chap who knows his material. He’s been a fan of the genre since the 80s. To know its origins which includes Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and the influence German Expressionism had on the Universal Monsters from the Golden Age of Hollywood is just as important, but it’s his fondness for lower budget B movies of other eras that keeps him going. He recalls the days where he and his pals would meet to watch anything they could find at the video rental shop. To reflect those times, his store carries an eclectic stock of material from this era, which includes light up VHS tapes! (for display only) But the list does not end there. There are movie props hanging from the ceiling and a human spine in the middle of the store. A morgue this place is not, but a curious shop with taxidermy items (supplied by Cranium of Curiosities) it can easily become!
“When I got older and I was getting more into the scene, I found it was very difficult to get things that I wanted to own,” laughed Gasbarri.
During his teenage years, working at Tazmanian Comics and later operating a pool hall, the passion to run his own store tugged at him. He wasn’t satisfied with what he was doing and yearned to be back in the world of retail. He knows of operations in the United States and found there are none here, at home.
“Netherworld Collectables was borne not just for my nerdiness and in what I like to collect. You have to bring in what people like,” said this store owner.
“I carry a lot of the hard to locate videos and I don’t rent them out. You’ve got to make sure they come back. For a one-man shop, you prioritize what’s important and what’s not. I tend to have a very decent stock of cult stuff and very little of that you would find at Wal-Mart.” said Gasbarri.
The influx of new product is constantly being solicited in trade catalogues like Diamond’s Previews, and he realizes those products move more than the older material. He finds it odd since when he collects stuff, it’s the old material which he keeps an eye out for.
He realizes that in a Millennial market, it’s about what’s new that you haven’t seen before. That’s why he keeps the store’s social media page up to date every week as new and used material enters the shop. The pictures show to clientele what has arrived. Much like Victoria-based Cherry Bomb Toys, that’s how people are informed when that one-of-a-kind item is brought in so they can race over to purchase (or phone in to get a hold).
But it’s the special events which get people talking. This upcoming anniversary celebration promises to be good. Gasbarri is a self-taught model maker, and the items he produces are one-offs which get raffled off. These creations give the store a line of product that clients can only buy at Netherworld.
“It’s a small percentage of the business,” revealed this creator, “but I mean it adds to the uniqueness of the shop having stuff that you can’t find anywhere else.
“I always give back to the people that supported the store since I’ve since I started and being such a unique business it is difficult to gain clientele but once you gain them you want to keep them and you want to keep them forever,” said Gasbarri.