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Cash 4 Chaos: Punks on the Parkway

Reporting and photos by Alexia Zilliken

· Alexia Zilliken,Businesses,Light Rail,Maryland Parkway,Gentrification

Las Vegas, NV - Twenty-two years ago, Mel Howard created a shop that would provide residents with their subculture needs and become essential to the Sin City alternative scene: Cash 4 Chaos. Through a great deal of hard work, a sharp business acumen, and diverse and steadfast employees, Cash 4 Chaos is still going strong in the ever-changing environment of Las Vegas.

The storefront of Cash 4 Chaos, 4110 S Maryland Pkwy #27 & #28, Las Vegas, NV 89119. By Alexia Zilliken

The storefront of Cash 4 Chaos, 4110 S Maryland Pkwy #27 & #28, Las Vegas, NV 89119. By Alexia Zilliken

In 1997, they began as a home based, e-commerce business that sold skateboards and punk rock gear. Shortly after, they saw the increasing demand for a punk rock clothing store and thus the Maryland Parkway storefront was born. The small shop quickly became popular in town as a source for cheap punk clothing and hard to find punk and metal music.

They quickly outgrew the puny store with their wide-ranging selection of punk paraphernalia; the shop now doubles the original size. In the twenty-two years that Mel has been on Maryland Parkway, he has seen a lot of changes. Particularly, a gradual decline in the conditions of the area but that there is somewhat an effort to revitalize it beginning to show:

I do see a change; I see that they’re trying to do something,” Howard also mentioned how three years prior, Fox 5 News had come to talk to him about the same subject, “Nothing’s really come of it yet, except for the few buildings they’re building there, down the street. Nothing really down on my end too much.”

When asked about some of the changes that Howard would like to see on his end of Maryland Parkway, he noted that the roads are already beginning to improve but that there are still a lot of vacant shops inside the Pioneer Plaza where his shop is located. He hopes that the dorms going up across the street from there will help bring in more potential business owners. One possible change to area would be gentrification; Howard said that he isn’t concerned about it for now.

"At that point I would probably wanna go anyway. I mean, I’ve been on the brink of leaving though anyway so, in five years when that happens I would just close up and they could put a Starbucks here if they want,” Personally, Howard said that he would not suffer if he were to close his shop, although the community may not be thrilled with the idea. For their loyal fan base of punks, Psycho/ Rockabilly and metal heads, losing this shop would be quite a blow to the punk community; especially since shops that cater to them are far and few and aren’t able to keep up with the changing times.

"We've gone through a million different changes in the scene, but we’ve always stuck to the same thing and that’s what people appreciate about it.”

When the topic of the RTC Light Rail came up, Howard had actually heard about it and he was not overly excited about the idea of it running through Maryland Parkway: “That’s gonna be fun. That’s gonna be a lot of construction so, I don’t know how to feel about that; that’s gonna be kind of annoying.”

Howard does not use RTC transportation himself, but he does drive down Maryland Parkway and Russell in order to get to his shop every day. He talked about how they should just make better cut outs for the buses instead of trying to replace them altogether with a light rail that may not even be worth building.

Neon sign in the store window. Las Vegas, NV 89119. By Alexia Zilliken

Neon sign in the store window. Las Vegas, NV 89119. By Alexia Zilliken

“They’re always trying to get rid of buses. I mean, a light rail’s so expensive; it’s like the Metro Link in California. They built that and it was just a big waste of money.”

According to Howard, when he lived in California as a child he would take the Link to the beach but other than that, only a small amount of people even use the Metro Link in California. Howard also addressed how the light rail won’t really help when it comes to dealing with Strip traffic or traffic generally. So, does the owner of the punk scene’s favorite shop see a future for the Light Rail? In the words of the Sex Pistols to the RTC proposal, “No future, no future for you.”

Twenty-two years ago, Mel Howard created a shop that would provide residents with their subculture needs and become essential to the Sin City alternative scene: Cash 4 Chaos. Through a great deal of hard work, a sharp business acumen, and diverse and steadfast employees, Cash 4 Chaos is still going strong in the ever-changing environment of Las Vegas, Nevada. In 1997 they began as a home based, e-commerce business. Shortly after, they saw the increasing demand for a punk rock clothing store and thus the Maryland Parkway storefront was born. The small shop quickly became popular in town as a source for cheap punk clothing and hard to find punk and metal music.

They quickly outgrew the puny store with their wide-ranging selection of punk paraphernalia; the shop now doubles the original size. In the twenty-two years that Mel has been on Maryland Parkway, he has seen a lot of changes. Particularly, a gradual decline in the conditions of the area but that there is somewhat an effort to revitalize it beginning to show:

“I do see a change; I see that they’re trying to do something,” Howard also mentioned how three years prior, Fox5 News had come to talk to him about the same subject, “Nothing’s really come of it yet, except for the few buildings they’re building there, down the street. Nothing really down on my end too much.”

Rock and Psycho-Billy dresses for sale. Las Vegas, NV 89119. By Alexia Zilliken

Rock and Psycho-Billy dresses for sale. Las Vegas, NV 89119. By Alexia Zilliken

When asked about some of the changes that Howard would like to see on his end of Maryland Parkway, he noted that the roads are already beginning to improve but that there are still a lot of vacant shops inside the Pioneer Plaza where his shop is located. He hopes that the dorms going up across the street from there will help bring in more potential business owners. One possible change to area would be gentrification; Howard said that he isn’t concerned about it for now.

“At that point I would probably wanna go anyway. I mean, I’ve been on the brink of leaving though anyway so, in five years when that happens I would just close up and they could put a Starbucks here if they want,” Personally, Howard said that he would not suffer if he were to close his shop, although the community may not be thrilled with the idea. For their loyal fan base of punks, Psycho/ Rockabillies and metal heads, losing this shop would be quite a blow to the punk community; especially since shops that cater to them are far and few and aren’t able to keep up with the changing times.

“We’ve gone through a million different changes in the scene, but we’ve always stuck to the same thing and that’s what people appreciate about it.”

When the topic of the RTC Light Rail came up, Howard had actually heard about it and he was not overly excited about the idea of it running through Maryland Parkway: “That’s gonna be fun. That’s gonna be a lot of construction so, I don’t know how to feel about that; that’s gonna be kind of annoying.”

DVDs and rock band posters. Las Vegas, NV 89119. By Alexia Zilliken

DVDs and rock band posters. Las Vegas, NV 89119. By Alexia Zilliken

Howard does not use RTC transportation himself, but he does drive down Maryland Parkway and Russell in order to get to his shop every day. He talked about how they should just make better cut outs for the buses instead of trying to replace them altogether with a light rail that may not even be worth building.

“They’re always trying to get rid of buses. I mean, a light rail’s so expensive; it’s like the Metro Link in California. They built that and it was just a big waste of money.”

According to Howard, when he lived in California as a child he would take the Link to the beach but other than that, only a small amount of people even use the Metro Link in California. Howard also addressed how the light rail won’t really help when it comes to dealing with Strip traffic or traffic generally. So, does the owner of the punk scene’s favorite shop see a future for the Light Rail? In the words of the Sex Pistols to the RTC proposal, “No future, no future for you.”

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