Smooth roads bend lazily around parking lots separated by strips of well-kept grass and shrubbery. Identical metal-gray, box-shaped buildings line the curves. It’s like a slightly-alternate world near 56th and Cornhusker Highway in Lincoln, in which we care about the topographical aesthetics of where our caster wheels are shipped from.
But if you’re used to that kind of scene, the Mystery Machine-painted van parked outside of one of those buildings might seem stranger than the suburban-inspired streets in an uninhabited neighborhood.
It’s Andrew Borakove’s van, and it doesn’t move much anymore. He’s the owner of Gongs Unlimited, one warehouse tenant could go completely unnoticed in the array of uniform buildings were it not for the van.
Not many of those tenants have been featured in Wall Street Journal or on NPR. Even fewer can boast housing the gong from MTV’s Gong Show.
Borakove and his staff could be selling anything online and out of the Gongs Unlimited warehouse. It could be Brass Door Handles Unlimited or Cookbooks Unlimited. The business model would be the same: purchase and aggregate from producers and sell to a third party.
But it is gongs, and the conditions fit the product. He’s got a team of musicians and music aficionados staffing the warehouse, including members of Oquoa, Opposing the Apparition, King Thumper, The Melon Company and The Crayons.
In Borakove’s relaxed work environment, his employees learn about and play the product they’re peddling. Stickers with wry phrases like “Gongs Not Bongs” adorn walls. Not taking the work too seriously is as good as a rule.
So, yes, Borakove could be operating Coat Trees Unlimited. But there’s a culture to cultivate within the gong world, a culture in which Borakove, who arrived at the decision of a career change by way of seaside meditation, can be personally interested.
cameras: Will Stott and Jacob Zlomke
editing: Will Stott