MADELEINE BRAND, host:
A young man cleaning up for a hot date might need a new outfit. Where to go? Abercrombie? Urban Outfitters? The mall? No way, says Orlando Campbell. He has a hotter shopping spot. Here he is for our weekly edition of Youth Radio's trend-tracking series, What's the New What.
ORLANDO CAMPBELL: What's the New What? I say liquor stores are the new department stores. These days, when you go to your local corner store to buy a 99-cent bag of chips and a soda, you might end up leaving with a whole new wardrobe. Walk into an inner-city liquor store in the San Francisco Bay area, and you'll probably witness firsthand how huge this phenomenon has become.
(Soundbite of song "Licka Sto")
D. WILLZ (Singing): So I bought a pair of shoes, buy my shoes at the liquor store.
CAMPBELL: D. Willz, a rapper from Oakland, California, even made a song about it.
Unidentified Man: You go to the mall, you got everything. And that's how the liquor stores are now. You got the clothes, the food, and shoes, and everything you need is right there. One stop shop.
CAMPBELL: It started with five dollar white Ts and grew into selling almost any type of clothing imaginable right there at your local neighborhood liquor store.
Unidentified Man: You know, you could go get some Jordans at the mall for like, what, 150. You go to the liquor store, you get it for 50 bucks.
CAMPBELL: And I feel much better supporting a family-run business in my own community than some huge corporate-run department store.
(Soundbite of song "I'm So Krispy")
KIA SHINE (Singing): I'm so krispy, I'm so krispy, my jeans 900, my shoes 850.
CAMPBELL: While regular people are struggling, rappers like Kia Shine are talking about spending $900 on a pair of jeans. Entertainers talking all this slick stuff are giving kids unrealistic goals and misplaced values. Liquor stores not only make shopping more convenient, but also keep guys like Leon Sikes (ph), an Oakland resident and faithful liquor store shopper, fashionable and up to date for a reasonable price.
Mr. LEON SIKES: Nowadays, it seems as if designer clothing no longer matters because the economy's going down as far as pricing is rising. We're in a recession. So people are trying to get whatever they could get for their money.
CAMPBELL: He's not lying. There have been countless times when the corner store's come to the rescue. Like recently, when I got a call from a gorgeous girl I've been trying to kick it with.
(Soundbite of phone ringing)
CAMPBELL: Let's go to the movies, she said. As I was about to walk out the door, I glanced in the mirror. I had been wearing the same black hoodie, flipped-back beanie, and old white T for way too long. I needed to step it up and fast. A quick walk around the corner elevated my clothing game to a new peak with enough time to pick up my beautiful date, get my popcorn, and find a seat all the way in the back of the pitch black theater.
(Soundbite of song "Licka Sto")
D. WILLZ (Singing): I bought a pair of shoes, bought my shoes at the liquor store.
BRAND: Orlando Campbell, he comes to us from Youth Radio. To hear the rest of the What's the New What series, check it out online at npr.org/what