Friday, August 31, 2012

Touch Boutique Remembered

The scene at the Touch Boutique in September 1972 From far left : unknown, Tom Coy, unknown, David J. Boyd, Bill "Woody" Woods, unknown, and unknown. Seated left: Sandy Rosen, unknown. Seated right: Jim Kitchen

This ode to the Touch Boutique has been updated several times as more info and photos have rolled in. It's worth another look. And if anyone has more photos or memories, feel free to send them my way.

Here's the original posts...

More photos of The Touch Boutique at 804 Detroit Street keep magically appearing. These are all courtesy of Flint Expatriate David J. Boyd. I've added these new shots to the original posts so we can keep the comment section intact. Feel free to give us your memories of The Touch.





Bare Naked Clothing



Co-Owner Ron Watson


Ron Watson and David J. Boyd



Middle Earth Books



Doug Boyd


Dick Dehlin "sells incense, rolling papers, specialty pipes, India imports, hippie gear, and all at a nice hip capitalist mark-up," remembers David J. Boyd.
More Bare Naked Clothing.



David J. Boyd, a Psychedelic Ranger at the 1972 Ann Arbor Jazz and Blues Festival

And now back to the original posts...

Readers have sent a few great photos and artifacts related to The Touch Boutique, so I'm adding them to the original post about this long lost Flint icon.




Mary Fisher and friends near the corner of Detroit and Fifth in 1940. The gas station and what was to become The Touch Boutique are in the background.


A more recent shot of the abandoned gas station turned pool hall by jar with most, complete with campaign advertising. To the right is the corner of the old St. Michael's School, which became Daniel O'Sullivan Model School and, eventually, Flint Schools of Choice.


Here is an ad for The Touch Boutique taken from the September 1, 1972 issue of the Flint Freedom Reader, an alternative publication created at The Touch. Thanks to jbing for passing along this great artifact.


And now back to the original post...


For the kids at St. Michael's in the seventies, The Touch Boutique was a mysterious place that most of us saw only from the outside. Here's how it looked then. It was right across Detroit Street from Merlin's Retreat. It eventually became a home to band members of Jesus Christ and the Superstars and Pincusion in the late 1980s. (Check out Aaron Stengel's Take No Prisoners for an archive of the Flint music scene.) Photo is by Jeff Holbrook and courtesy of Flintstoner80, who offers up some amazing Flint memories on his Flickr page.


A 1979 ad for The Touch Boutique courtesy of Jar With Most, who keeps the memory of old Flint alive with his photos and artifacts.


Jar With Most provides a more recent shot of what was once The Touch Boutique. The sign on the left near the roof reads: "Absolutely no God but Allah. Muhammad is His Messenger" in Arabic. You can see the edge of St. Mike's school peaking out between the trees in the middle of the frame.

34 comments:

  1. That building next to it on the corner used to be a gas station in the 30's.

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  2. I was just at Sloan recently and saw that they had on display some head shop items, including a roach clip sold there as well a frisbee with the Touch contact info printed on it. I hope that means Sloan won't flinch when Joel Rash & I bring in stuff from the Flint's seedy punk underbelly.

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  3. Wow...Touch Boutique. I frequented that place. I can almost smell the Patchouli Oil and the Sandlewood insence burning. Tie Died material wall hangings, pipes and decals,record albums,tons of paraphanalia that I pretended to know the use for, etc. It was my first experience with the "headshop" world. I was in 7th and 8th grade at Daniel O'Sullivan and I loved to sneak over there. There was something so mysterious about going through the door of that place. I liken it to Alice in Wonderland eating the mushrooms and going through the doors and rooms that got smaller and smaller (hey....I think I just figured out what the hell "Alice in Wonderland" was about!) It was confusing to me but at the same time, intriguing. The people (hippies pretty much) that worked in there were always so calm and peaceful (higher than kites most likely). Still...intriguing. As for Merlins Retreat. Ha ha...I went there too. What a trip! (no pun intended)

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  4. Würstside WarlørdFebruary 8, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    Rumor has it (according to a reliable ex-hippie/punk source) that there may be an large stash of generations old weed in the Touch basement. Seems that there was a vertical support pipe with a hole at about eye level. I guess folks would dispose of their roachs in the hole. This happened for many years. Dude says he saw so many roaches go into that pipe that it had to be at least waist high. Somebody should cut the support in half and find out.

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  5. I remember that place. I never went in, and now I can't imagine why. I would have been right at home there. I remember it was open until fairly recently. I think it went out of business in the mid to late 90s? I could be wrong but that's my recollection. There used to be a similar place on South Saginaw Street. It was right across from the Dairy Queen just down from Bristol Rd. It had the same stuff and it was really cool. It only lasted about 5 years at most. That was sad. The people who owned it were really nice.

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  6. Wurtside -- I'll bring a hacksaw if you'll bring a clip and several boxes of matches.

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  7. ww and cooley: really guys, do you actually think there was ANYTHING left after chris, chuck, dan and I rented the touch?

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  8. Eric -- Wurtside and I will cheerfully accept reparations in kind for the Bogartish behavior of you and your comrades.

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  9. Anyone remember the 8 track tape store next door? I think the owner's name was Dave. I had an eight track player installed in my 1966 Skylark. The Skylark had factory installed Delco reverb, ran that through the eight track player. It was real psychedelic! Ha-ha. This had to be around 1971.
    Posted 2 minutes ago.

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  10. Wow! great to see something online about the place where I was led very far astray in a past life....

    Anybody know what happened to Dennis who used to work at Touch?

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  11. Rick's Sound City was next door--all the vertical support pipes were used for roach disposal---all the employees and owners were sky high ---nice to read the comments

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  12. The new pics are great....I can't remember how many times me and my buddy Charles Arntzen got kicked out of Touch Boutique for being underage..I think you had to be the ripe old age of sixteen to get in!!

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  13. This brings back memories of Susie Stash on I think Lewis St...Same type of store, with a tatoo parlor as well...

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    1. Franklin ave?.. i have a small heart tattoo under my sleeve from there.....they were some kind of kin to my husband kyle...

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  14. I guess by now, I shouldn't be surprised at what you run across in this blog, but for what it's worth, I'll chime in on the Touch. I worked with an organization,that was called Michigan Marijuana Initiative up on the second floor. Being in my thirties at the time, I was viewed by some of the folks there as; "If they are over thirty, they can't be trusted"...a slogan of the times. We passed out a lot of honest literature about some of the misinformation that was being spread about grass. I remember a lot of the faces there from this article. Man, that was over thirty five years ago...I have great grand kids now. unclebuck

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  15. ....also, a year later I owned the farthest north headshop (Midland) in Mich. Papers were free....unclebuck

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  16. Amigo Amigo Gimme A KickAugust 22, 2009 at 2:37 PM

    Uncle Buck- I know this is Flint Expats, but a headshop in Midland sounds fascinating. Do tell. I've always been interested in Tri-Cities subculture but have turned up very little.

    Do Tri-Cities Expats have as a strong attachment to place as Flintoids? I always had an affinity for Saginaw and Bay City. Midland is weird. Dow has a cool dystopian vibe though.

    Uhh.........

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  17. Amigo Amigo - I commuted to Midland back in the seventies from Flint. I didn't frequent the Tri-Cities much. The shop was on the circle in Midland. We also sold nice leather there and imports from Ecuador. The customers were diverse. Little old ladies with a granddaughter for candles, incense and purse or something of that nature. It was a clean store until the record concession started dealing. My partner and I shut it down the following week. Midland stank of chemicals so bad it was a shame. We sold a lot of stuff made in Ann Arbor by the Rainbow people. Quality. Don't know much about the demographics of that time in that area, but Midland always fielded great baseball teams and Bay City and Saginaw had kickass football teams. Flint teams ruined their perfect seasons though. Damn good pheasant hunting in the thumb back then too. Adios, Amigo

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  18. Bill Woods and myself started the Touch Boutique in 1971 in an old barbershop on the corner of Court and Saginaw Streets, across from what was a Ford dealership. The large plate glass windows were painted by David Laney as an 8 X 12 foot American Flag with a peace sign and pot leaf superimposed over the middle of it. These windows were used as target practice on a regular basis by (we suspected) the local law enforcement whose headquarters were a block away. In the storefront next to ours, a fellow known as "Batman" opened a short lived waterbed store.

    We moved to the Detroit address (leased from one of Flint's prominent attorneys) approximately a year later. after several years Bill sold his half of the business to Watson and Boyd and I sold my half a year later to a fellow from E. Lansing.

    I bought 40 acres in the middle the Hiawatha Natl Forest near Marquette, graduated from NMU, and went on to be the Transfusion Supervisor of a major trauma center in CA (proving that you can smoke your brains out and still be productive). I am now retired, restoring 60's muscle cars. Keep it real, "Leo"

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    1. Leo, was your girlfriend named Carol?

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    2. Carol is my wife of 40 years. We have 3 wonderful (now grown and gone) kids.

      Leo

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    3. Leo my best friend was "Batmans" gf, Phillis Raad. My dearest friend had a record shop upstairs, Jim Thorpe, who was also great friends with David. I spent alot of time at Touch! Great to see we made it !!! lol
      Love 'n Peace~ Millie

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  19. We need some of Stillwagons art here!

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  20. My dad ran that gas station from the late 1940s until about 1952. And talk about ahead of his time - he hired a one-armed African-American ex-convict by the name of Willie, whom I actually remember.

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  21. Hey, what did your dad do after that? I love getting the history of these buildings and the people connected with them.

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  22. This housed my father's law office until he moved downtown to the brand new Genesee Towers in 1969. I loved this house and visited frequently as a child while Dad worked on Saturdays. The house had many of its original details at the time: leaded glass windows, a claw foot bathtub and lots of beautiful wood trim. And there was a "secret" staircase in my dad's office that led to the attic!

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  23. I still have some pink touch Boutique matches!

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  24. Gord, I hope this revisit dredges up more history of those street corners around St. Mikes. There is a lot more spin-off to be had. Especially from the students a couple blocks away who kept the Fathers and Sisters on their toes coping with their antics. A lot of pranking and fun stuff.

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  25. The gas station was operational at least as late as the mid 60s. I bought gas there.

    It was a full service station, and one of the pump guys was named Tiny. One day he was shot by somebody that didn't want to pay for their gas. In spite of being only ten or so blocks from Hurley, he lost enough blood to die before he could be gotten there.

    Back in those days, murder in Flint was unusual, and that was considered a pretty good neighborhood.

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  26. I didn't get to Flint until 1981, but there's something so sweet and innocent about these photos of the Touch Boutique. Years into the 80's, Merlin's was still there, and I once took my mother there. She ordered some fresh-squeezed juice -- celery, maybe? -- and thoroughly loved it. But the world changed soon thereafter...she died and Merlin's is long gone and all those adorable kids in your photos have gone on to other lives or disappeared. It was an endearing and hopeful time while it lasted.

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  27. Anyone out there in touch with Bill "Woody" Woods?

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  28. Thanks for the memories! Hey I knew Jim Kitchen in the above picture. Someone that worked there, Cameron Kaye I would love to know what ever happened to him.

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  29. Wow. Touch boutique. Purchased many a Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic there, as well as other, um, paper products...

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  30. There was another ";Head Shop" a couple of buildings south of 5th ave on the west side of the road circa 1970-72. Anyone remember the name?

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