How a retailer turned Marlborough into the goth capital of N.H.
As a service, the town of Marlborough, population 2,069, lists the names of local businesses on its website. On the list is a farm, a family barber, an automotive store and the goth emporium Inkubus.It might seem strange that owner Malaise Lindenfeld would choose small-town New Hampshire for the retail home of her online shop. But so it is, that since 2005, Inkubus has been a staple at 172 Main St., Marlborough.”It’s rather innocuous,” said Marlborough Selectman John Northcott of the store. “No one pays much attention to it. Most of her business is online, so it brings very little traffic of the sort implied (by) what is sold there. Overall it’s been well received.”And what’s sold online and in the store — housed in an 1800s building known locally as “The Stone Store” — is everything from chokers and fishnets to flowy Renaissance garb to skull onesies for the baby goth set.Lindenfeld said she tries to cater to everyone, from avid subscribers of the goth lifestyle to what she called “weekend warriors.””There are some people who are completely into the lifestyle and will dress the part 24/7, or they are into certain types of music and their entire life might be ruled by this,” she said. “And then there are the weekend warriors, or people who like to go to clubs and look a certain way. I think it has become more than a lifestyle. “Lindenfeld describes goth clothing as kind of a dramatic, romantic and dark style, a sort of velvety angst, that’s always evolving.”It’s really like a fantasy thing, I think,” she said. “You can have, say, an office job and dress like everyone else at work and then you get home and have a completely different life and can be somebody else. I think there is something very appealing about that.”The southwestern New Hampshire town of Marlborough, on the other hand, is the epitome of that office job.But despite the incongruity, Lindenfeld has been good for the community, Northcott said.”The owner has really done a great deal to revitalize our downtown,” Northcott said. “She completely restored the building the store is in and the two next to it. And now she’s even restoring an old gas station and making it a hardware store. The owner has been fantastic.”Finding New HampshireInitially, Lindenfeld said she was just looking for a place to store her stuff.In 1997, Lindenfeld and a business partner opened up an art gallery in Coconut Grove, Fla., with an early incarnation of Inkubus next door. The retail store was intended to be sort of a complement to the art being sold, but eventually “the clothing store ate up the gallery,” Lindenfeld said.Over the years, Lindenfeld made frequent trips to New Hampshire to visit her son, who was attending boarding school in the state, and fell in love with it. When her lease expired in Florida, she started looking for a home in New Hampshire for herself and her shop.After finding the stone building in Marlborough, she gutted it and planned to divide it into space for two businesses. But it looked so good, she couldn’t bear it, she said. Then she saw the big windows facing out on Main Street and saw the possibilities. She decided then to open a store.Since then, Lindenfeld said she’s built a name for Inkubus among Granite Staters as well as out-of-towners, with quite a bit of her clientele hitting up the retail store on the way to and from other places.”I would say (our business) is 60 percent online and 40 percent in the store,” she said. “We get both (locals and out-of-towners). We get a lot of people who come here specifically because we’ve been around for a while, so they know about us and they might take a drive. We’ve had people from all over the world, that, if they are close by and say they are traveling to Boston or New York, they will drive to the store. And then we have people who are more local, and we have a lot of regulars.”The goth community, already a subculture, is not easy to find in New Hampshire.”It’s not so much a scene as it is small pockets” of goths, said Jim Doyle of Brattleboro, Vt., aka DJ Rabid Angel.Doyle, with a steady group of regulars, has been a deejay for a regular goth night at Manchester’s Breezeway Pub for the past few years and has done events with Inkubus.The folks who subscribe to the movement are loyal, Doyle said.”It’s nice to have a local place where we can go,” he said. “If you know there are stores where your fellow club kids work, or a local business like Inkubus, it’s important to go there and show our support. We are a community. But that community has to exist outside of a club. If the club was all there was, the community would be shallow. It would mean nothing.”And it’s changing, Lindenfeld said. Where it once was club kids dressed in black clothes and white face humming songs by The Cure, there now are now pinup-inspired goths, brightly colored goths, glam goths and even hippie goths, she said.Though she did not share her sales or profit figures, she said business has been steady over the past few years counting among the big sellers a line called Hell Bunny, which Lindenfeld described as affordable and great looking.There has also been a surge in demand for baby and kid goth clothing.”We’ve done it for years now,” she said. “I think it’s fun. I have a son, and when he was little, there was nothing to dress him with — it was all OshKosh overalls and that was the extent of it. And now there’s so much.”