Normals was formed on a tiny budget in 1990 as a collective of 9 people who wanted to work for themselves and to form a certain cultural presence in Baltimore. The stock has always been good and broad, drawing on the lure of Waverly as a "book neighborhood" and proximity to Johns Hopkins University. At the same time, Normals was a fairly unusual place to visit because a.) there was no "boss," and b.) the collective was involved in a lot of publishing, performance, organizing, alternative thinking, politics, & "strange" sensibilities. This kept things lively, sometimes resulting in concerts or openings in the store. The place has always meant more than just selling stuff.
Caution: These are not the owners. Teresa "Muggs" Duggan and "Lucky Charms" Eaton.
Our first home was a shelf in a second hand clothes store (Las Locas) where we sold our books on consignment. For several years after that, the collective operated a book store and a record store across the street from one another. Over time, we reduced in size to four people (Fred, Rupert, John & Walt) and moved to a luxurious single location on the same block with lots of space & big windows. Business picked up, Walt built a lot more shelving, and a few new friends came to work part-time, and that brings us up to the present & to a hopeful future.
Normals got its name from a few different sources, so it will have to be shrouded in myth and mystery. One theory says that the founding collective members were (almost) all former employees of the Baltimore Psychiatric Research Center, as "Normal (control) test subjects" in Schizophrenia Research. These are the people who are paid to provide "baseline" results to the same tests taken by schizophrenics of the same age and sex. It amused us -- that we, as individuals, would be paid to constitute a standard of "normality!"