If you are looking for a unique mom-and-pop place filled with knick-knacks, posters, tapestries, tobacco accessories and more, Mother Murphy’s is the place to go.
Located at the corner of North Street, right before the circle in Uptown, Mother Murphy’s has been on campus for over thirty years. The store is owned by Mike and Becky Williams, who were thirteen when the store opened. Mike and Becky both grew up in Bloomington, and Mike worked at the store in his teens. He bought the store in 1990 after graduating from ISU.
Mother Murphy’s originally opened in Bloomington in 1968 before moving to Normal. The store was started by Betty Anderson and Charlotte Murphy and called Mother Murphy’s Head Shop.
“There were lots of shops popping up, hippie shops, and Betty and Charlotte were skilled in leather crafting when they opened back in the hippie era,” Mike said.
The store carries a variety of different products including tobacco accessories, tapestries, music and jewelry. They also have a variety of incense to choose from, along with some clothes and other accessories as well. The majority of the products in the store are made locally and come from different businesses and artists within a 50 mile radius
Mike and Becky decided to open Shockwave Skateboards as well in 1992, and had a storefront in Bloomington. In 2003, they combined Mother Murphy’s and Shockwave Skateboards into the one store in Uptown, above Washburn Flowers.
Since Mother Murphy’s is located on the second floor of the building, there is a stairwell when you walk in. There is a box of markers kept at Mother Murphy’s for people to pick from and customers can write on the walls of the stairwell.
“Where the local art begins is right on the stairs,” Mike said.
The walls are covered top to bottom in names, sayings, and different websites to check out bands, blogs and more.
Along with running Mother Murphy’s, Mike has also been a musician since he was a little kid. Mike plays the guitar and harmonica, and writes music as well. Occasionally the store will hold an open mic night, where different musicians can join at the store to perform and play together.
The best way to hear about events like the open mic night is through the Mother Murphy’s Facebook page. They update the site frequently with different videos of performances and Mike will even put his own entertaining videos up inviting customers to check out the store.
“Sometimes I’ll post secret phrases and coupons up there,” Mike said. They also like to post songs that relate to a certain day in history, or things that will appeal to upcoming ISU events.
Mother Murphy’s is a really neat place to check out. It has a mom-and-pop feel and the entire store is covered wall-to-wall in different art and merchandise. There are a variety of different things to choose from and the atmosphere is very welcoming. Next time you are in Uptown be sure to check out this local store and see what they have to offer.