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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Welcome to the Dirty T: Pop Cycle’s manager found her passion in Tucson’s art scene

    Zi Yang Lai

    Libby Tobey, manager of PopCycle, arranges items on a shelf. PopCycle is located at 422 N 4th Ave.

    One of my all-time favorite places on North Fourth Avenue is Pop-Cycle. It is a quaint little store that sells funky merchandise made mostly of recycled material. The art ranges from vintage to pop to punk. You never know what exactly you’ll find there, and every visit brings something new to your attention. As I was looking around, Libby Tobey, the manager of Pop-Cycle, told me about her journey with the shop.

    “I used to manage a nursery and we did art shows all the time, … once a year out at Desert Bloom Nursery,” she said. “We had these big, elaborate art shows where a lot of different local artists would come and sell their art. The owners of [Pop-Cycle and] DDco Design make a lot of the art here but they were doing shows at the nursery I worked at. The other owner, [Jennifer Radler of] Monster Booty, would also come to this show that I was hosting. I met them all there and we just became really good friends. I have always liked their work.”

    It was easy to see that Tobey is very passionate about what this art stood for, as she continued to explain that all of the work in the shop is eco-friendly and locally-made.

    “When the economy changed, the nursery—well, we didn’t have that much business. So I was laid off, and my new friends had just opened this store,” Tobey said. “They were hesitant to do it, especially during that time, but they needed studio space. This building would have enough room for each to have studio space and a store front. It was just perfect. But they were trying to run it all by themselves and needed help—to make your own product and run your own store is a bit much. They just needed extra help, so I started doing little things and moved into actually working here. It’s been almost seven years now.”

    She walked me around the store to show me all of the art that her friends make and explained why she liked certain pieces or what made a particular doohickey special. 

    It was really fun to watch her look around this store because she would be showing me one thing then get excited and show me something else. It was as if she was seeing each piece of art for the first time all over again.

    “Every day is different and I meet all sorts of people with their own stories. We also try to be really involved in the community. Tucson is such a great place for art.”

    I could tell that Tobey probably could and wanted to talk about Pop-Cycle for ages, but I felt I needed to ask her if she had any personal life advice.

    “Oh boy, that’s a tough one. You’re asking all the hard questions,” she said as we chuckled. “I guess my piece of life advice is to be true to yourself and true to others. It’s simple.”

    Tobey is an incredibly charming member of our Tucson community and can be often found working away at Pop-Cycle. She is very kind and makes visits to this funky shop just that much more wonderful. Be sure to check out the art Tucson locals have to offer and visit Tobey at Pop-Cycle.

    Follow Thea Van Gorp on Twitter.

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