The Electric Fetus has been a gathering place for music heads and counter-culturists in Minnesota since 1968. It began as a place to get turned on to something a little out of the ordinary, and that still holds true today. We stock a comprehensive selection of CDs, DVDs, and LPs: old classics to the newest blog hype, from all different genres and styles. Our great local scene means we have exclusives on the bands poised to be the next Replacements, Husker Du, or Atmosphere. The Fetus also carries an array of great gifts including books, toys, clothing, stationery, incense, bath & beauty products and more, with three locations in Minneapolis, Duluth and St. Cloud.
The Electric Fetus: A Brief History
The first thing people usually notice is the name. National Lampoon magazine singled the store out for having the worst name for a business. Be that as it may, it’s a name people don’t forget. No one seems to remember the exact original inspiration for the lighting rod of a moniker that our store was born under; it just seemed to fit the times. There were a lot of electric things going on in 1968: The Electric Flag, Electric Ladyland…
The year 1968 was one of extreme change for the country. It was in this spirit of revolution that the Fetus began its existence, founded by four friends on Minneapolis’ West Bank, the center of the city’s hippie scene. The original Electric Fetus was as much of a cultural experiment as a retail establishment. The stories from those halcyon days are part of Twin Cities underground legend. There’s the story of one of the owners being given a citation for refusing to take down a drawn, caricature poster of John and Yoko’s Two Virgins with Richard and Pat Nixon’s faces on the bodies. Or the time another of the owners was arrested for having a “peace flag” in the store window. Or the numerous accounts of customers finding the front counter vacant except for a note asking to patrons to leave the money for what they took by the register (most customers did). And of course, there’s the Streakers’ Sale, in which customers were allowed to take all that they could carry for free as long as they shopped in the buff.
By 1972 the country began to experience a loss of innocence and a dissolution of the ideals of the hippie dream (Altamont, Manson, Watergate, etc). The Electric Fetus followed with the sign of the times and left the West Bank to move to its current location on the corner of 4th Avenue and Franklin. That location expanded and eventually two more branches opened in Duluth and St. Cloud. Of the original four founders only Keith Covart remains. A few years ago Keith’s daughter Stephanie has come aboard to carry on the Fetus tradition.
Although different from its West Bank origins, the Fetus is still a fixture of the community, where you’re likely to run into many of the Twin Cities’ up-and-coming musicians (either behind the counter or browsing the stacks), sports stars, newscasters, or even the mayor. It’s a place to talk about music with the staff or to find that totally unique gift for that person in your family who’s impossible to buy for. We not only sell tickets to shows around town but often host free in-store performances where you can see your favorite artists up close in an intimate setting.
There’ve been a lot of changes at the Electric Fetus over the past 40-odd (and I do mean odd) years and there will continue to be. What won’t change is our commitment to turning our community on to cool music and unique gifts, much of it homegrown. So stop in and find out what’s going on. You’ll probably bump into someone you know, or someone you’d want to.