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COV’s 2nd Authenti-CITY Award goes to Hail Records and Oddities (‘freeze dried ducklings’ anyone?)

Second in series of five

To mark National Economic Development Week, the city of Covington is presenting the first-annual “Authenti-CITY Awards” to acknowledge five places, events, people and organizations that make The COV an authentically cool city in the Tri-State.

The City staff will be presenting the award, a certificate, balloons and goat-shaped cookies to five winners each day this week.

Tuesday’s winner is Hail Records and Oddities at 720 Main St.

Why there?

Seriously? Have you been in the shop?

The tone is set with the sign in the window fronting the sidewalk: “The best place to get your freeze dried ducklings on your wedding day.”

Then, inside, there’s a full-blown skeleton of a lion in a glass case. A “Cyclops” whitetail deer mount. Cave nectar bat skulls. A raccoon hand floating in liquid. A stuffed coyote. And shadow boxes with mounted pink toe tarantulas and black scorpions.

Hail Records & Oddities owners Neil Higginbotham and Tracy Blankemeyer with their Authenti-CITY swag

But it’s not all animals.

You need a selenite wand? A vial of sloe berries? Incense and soaps? The latest edition of “High Magick?” A Jane Austen action figure? A very practical aromatherapy guide? A button featuring the face of Pennywise the clown’s brother?

It’s basically a museum of the macabre where (nearly) everything is for sale, owner Neil Higginbotham explained.

“We try to have something for everybody – although we ARE a very stylized and curated collection,” he said.

But – and here’s the interesting dichotomy – the shop is also a destination for very serious collectors of VHS and vinyl, where you can get anything from a Sid Vicious bootleg to Porter Wagenor’s “Satisfied Mind” (and practically everything in-between).

During the worst throes of COVID-19, curbside pickup and online business boomed, Higginbotham said.

You might know the shop by its former Hail Dark Aesthetics name and the Friday night “arts and crafts” get-togethers where couples and friends came together to learn the techniques of preserving and mounting black scorpions, butterflies, 5-horned rhinoceros beetles, and large velvety red flower beetles, (the latter billed as a Valentine’s Day “Date Night”).

Co-owner Tracy Blankemeyer, who oversaw the “classes,” said the shop hoped to organize similar events again once the pandemic allows it.

So, if you haven’t already come to this conclusion yourself: To fully appreciate the shop, you have to see it in person. If you have time, we advise asking for the how, why, and where each interesting piece was acquired. Each one does have a story, and Higginbotham and Blankemeyer are happy to tell it.

Tomorrow: Winner #3

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