Walking into sQecial Media, there is an air of relaxation and quiet interest that is a contrast to the busy South Limestone street outside. Shelves lined with random trinkets from voodoo dolls to novelty toys give way to a diverse shop. One visit might find customers shoulder to shoulder with one another, perusing quietly the variety of bumper stickers, essential oils and tapestries. After 45 years of business, sQecial became a Lexington staple and a piece of history.
On March 5 sQecial celebrated its 45th year of business. To commemorate the day, sQecial sold t-shirts that came with a free bumper sticker and had a 40 percent off sale of the entire store. sQecial also provided food and refreshments for customers. 45 years of business is a good testament of successful small businesses, as long as it has the right atmosphere around it. For sQecial Media, that atmosphere is one of fun and catering to its customers’ needs.
This is a store that has seen several customers over the years, each one different and diverse in their own way. Customers come looking for eclectic gifts, decorations for their homes, fun t-shirts or any number of books and comics from sQecial’s collection. Moving through its aisles it seems as if they have everything there, and the spiritual aspect of the store is not hard to miss. There are self-guidance books among the smell of sage and books on different religions and philosophies. On top of everything they sell, sQecial also dabbles in the Lexington art scene. In the past, they collaborated with the Kentucky Theatre for showings of artsy documentaries and films. They also host poetry readings and contests each year.
Currently, sQecial is holding their 5th annual picture poet contest. 20th-century poet Kenneth Patchen inspires this contest, whose ‘picture-poems’ came from his belief that new forms of expression kept his readers engaged, according to the Academy of American Poets. This contest happens in honor of April being National Poetry Month. On April 23 sQecial hosts a reading of the winning poetry and reception.
Founded in 1972 by the late David Adams, hippie culture was the ‘it’ thing for college students and working adults alike, and sQecial catered to that crowd. It originally was a hub for local retailers to promote and sell their clothing, and though many of those retailers closed down in Lexington, sQecial still stands. Although the hippie era is long over, people visit for its uniqueness and historic presence. Political science sophomore Leah Kubala visits the store often, finding something new in the whimsical store every time.
“It’s a unique store where you can find things that you didn’t even know you wanted,” Kubala said. “There’s just a lot of eclectic treasures to find, and the local owners are really sweet.”
The store’s owner, Mary Morgan, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that while she enjoys working at the store when she can, she’s ready to travel the world. She plans to hand the store over to her daughter, Morgan Adams, who grew up working for her parents, and manager Ed Franklin.
Morgan Adams told the Herald-Leader that a reigning quality of the store is its ability to adapt. Even as the community around it changes, sQecial continues to provide Lexington with quirky gifts and an old-school vibe.