The Daily Gamecock

Mom and pop hippie shop Loose Lucy’s preserves ‘magic of the Grateful Dead’ in Five Points

Lined up with a string of Five Points boutiques and cafes sits Loose Lucy’s, a local mom and pop hippie shop stocked full of groovy tie-dye shirts, wall hangings, metaphysical supplies and good vibes.

Alongside everything that completes the stock, Loose Lucy’s co-owner Don McCallister said he wants the store to feel welcoming.

“We try to create a space that when you walk in, it's supposed to look fun. It’s supposed to feel that way, thanks to the music that’s playing," Don McCallister said. "We want you to feel like you’ve walked in some place that’s full of friends you’ve never met before."

The store's namesake and beginnings are thanks to the band Grateful Dead. Loose Lucy's got its start following the band around in the late '80s in a Volkswagen van and doing pop-up shops outside its shows.

“It's the kind of romance you would want to hear out of a story like this,” Don McCallister said.

The “magic of the Grateful Dead” played in favor of current husband and wife owners Don and Jenn McCallister and founders Mike and Susan Kaminsky, according to an email from Jenn McCallister. The song “Loose Lucy” was not played live for a 16-year hiatus that ended March 13, 1990. That night, the Kaminskys decided to name their business after this monumental moment in Dead history and start up a kiosk in Hilton Head.

As friends over the years and fellow Deadheads, the Kaminskys trusted in Jenn McCallister to carry on the business' legacy.

"It actually all came together in April of '97," Jenn McCallister, Loose Lucy's president, said. "It's been ours ever since."

Originally, the McCallisters would tape from the lots and sell cassettes of recorded Grateful Dead shows. These shows created family. Sharing the experience and bringing together so many people makes the moment so much "bigger than all of us," Jenn McCallister said.

"I always say the Grateful Dead itself, the music, the energy they bring, it's just magic," Jenn McCallister said. "Everything else flows from that. I mean, I can't take credit for any of it."

This path was centered around the thing they were both passionate about: not just the Grateful Dead, but the whole era.

"It was a lattice of beautiful synchronicity and connections that happened that led us to being the owners of this store," Don McCallister said.

Upon entry, Loose Lucy's memories and family are collaged across the walls.

"We have all of our best stubs, our Shakedown sheets. We actually have old license plates that were Jenn and Don's that are Grateful Dead songs," manager Kaykay Getz said.

Famous locals, stickers from the lots, articles and ads also line the wall. Getz said her favorite is the "pet wall."

Jenn McCallister said this inspires a feeling of family with their customers.

"We have the best customers, by far," Jenn McCallister said.

Whether you are missing the "festival vibe" or wanting a "walk down memory lane," Getz said the environment, the people and the "feng shui" of the place make it "hard to be mad."

If a customer has never listened to the Grateful Dead or feels like they might be a poser walking absent-mindedly into a store such as Loose Lucy’s, rest assured "there’s no judgement."

Don McCallister said he and his team understand that improvisational music might not be in line with everyone’s taste. He said they "try to educate people" that might not be experts on the band.

"If you want to wear tie-dye, or wear a Dead shirt and you’ve never heard a note, all it does is further cement the whole Grateful Dead experience as part of the American experience of the late 20th century,” McCallister said.


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