Agent Gallery storefront opens on Damen Avenue


Agent Gallery owner Mariano Chavez looks a little bored when I arrive to see his new storefront on a stretch of Damen Avenue near the border of Ukrainian Village and Wicker Park.  Home to a diverse population of yuppies, bobos, immigrants and hipsters, the neighborhood seems tailor-made for Mariano’s merchandise, which includes unusual pieces (Catholic clergy garments, explosion-proof phones, glass artificial eyes) alongside more standard salvage fare (industrial lighting, school lockers, doll molds).

But when I arrive near 3 p.m., Mariano tells me the only passer-by to drop in for a visit was a possibly schizophrenic older man who was paranoid about the cloaked specters of death flanking the front window display, which Mariano, who’s also an artist with a degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, added to the consternation of close friends who feared this kind of thing might happen (although perhaps not on the first day).

Continued . . .


1890's skull and crossbones ceremonial robe ($85)

But Mariano does a brisk business online, so he’s not worried about the slow start.  In fact, opening a bricks and mortar store is more of a nice-to-have, a base of operations that doubles as storage and gives Mariano the opportunity to meet his customers face-to-face.

As I wander around taking photos, one of Mariano’s buddies stops by to check out the store.  The man’s husky, a little swarthy even, and it seems like he doesn’t really get what Agent Gallery’s all about.  “People pay for this stuff?” he asks clearly astonished.  But Mariano’s affirmation gets him thinking, and it’s not long before the man starts asking whether Agent Gallery can sell the miscellaneous things he may still have lying somewhere around the house.  Mariano listens intently before respectfully tabling the topic for another day.  Which may be a bad idea.  It’s Agent Gallery’s first day, so while the new shopkeep might have plenty of free time now, something tells me he’s going to be busier than he can handle when the neighbors discover Agent Gallery in their midst with its cool owner, interesting merchandise and great prices.  If you have a chance this weekend, stop in to say hi.

Agent Gallery.  916 N. Damen Avenue.  312.498.6818












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10 Responses to “Agent Gallery storefront opens on Damen Avenue”

  1. This place looks great.

  2. The leather cuffs with crosses scare me a little…

    Mariano congrats. You are one of the nicest, most talented collectors/dealers I have come across. I love your sense of humor/wit/style. GREAT JOB!!!

  4. Albert, it was definitely major.

  5. I agree Albert. To Rhonda’s point, there are a lot of really, really nice people in the antique / vintage world. And yea, I am talking about you Brandon Nelson. What’s it to you?

  6. Really Maribeth, I’m so close to buying them, and I’m starting to get that frightened feeling that they’ve already sold. Do you know how much he has on them? $35! Doesn’t that seem reasonable?

  7. Can’t wait to get over there!

  8. I just stopped in today. Gorgeous, fascinating store, and Mariano is very nice. I’ll definitely be visiting on the regular to see what he’s found.