We all know Grammy-winning rapper Macklemore loves a good thrift shop already.
But you might not realize how much he seems to love Modesto thrift shops and tattoo parlors and grocery stores. The hip-hop artist known for such hits as “Can’t Hold Us,” “Same Love” and “Thrift Shop” stopped in the Central Valley city earlier this month to visit his grandmother and film at various locations around town.
The Seattle-based artist told people who spotted him around town he was there to celebrate the 100th birthday year of his grandmother, Helen, who lives in Modesto. The visit featured Macklemore, born Benjamin Haggerty, driving with his grandmother around town in a golden Cadillac. Among his stops over multiple days mid-June were Foundation Tattoo on 11th Street, WinCo Foods on Plaza Parkway and Second Chance Consignment & Costume Corner and Hy-Step Shoes on McHenry Avenue.
Macklemore arrived in town with a small film crew and production trailer, in addition to the gold Caddy. He called ahead to some of the businesses, including Second Chance Consignment & Costume Corner. Owner Kristy George got a call from one of her employees that someone was asking to come to the shop and film Saturday, June 17. So she called the producer back who explained it was for a video with Macklemore.
“I thought I was going to get punked, that one of my friends is pulling my chain,” George said. “But he ended up showing up and was super nice.”
The rapper and his white-haired grandmother shopped through the store, trying on outfits and filming. George said they were in the shop for about 45 minutes and bought two items — socks for Macklemore and a sparkly pink cowboy hat for his gran. George said Macklemore was “a very nice guy” and was “really sweet” with his grandma. She even let the multi-plantinum selling superstar slide on the store’s credit card policy. He paid for the socks ($2.97) and hat ($4.50) separately with his card even though the store has a $5 minimum per purchase policy.
“But, hey, I got two autographs,” George said.
A couple days earlier Macklemore and his grandma stopped at Foundation Tattoo off of downtown Modesto. Shop manager Sarah Teter said someone from his crew had called a week before to check on availability. He had picked the Modesto tattoo parlor after checking out artist Scotty B and the shop’s work online. So on Thursday, June 15, he arrived to get inked with his grandmother’s name “Helen.” While Teter said they did some filming, most of the couple hours at the shop were spent talking and hanging out together. His whole family, including wife and mother, were there as well.
“They were super nice, his whole family was here. They brought his grandmother and it was all super cool and intimate,” Teter said. “They took a while and came out to make sure she liked it. (His grandmother) definitely had a big part in it.”
Over the three-day span Macklemore was in town, sighting of him popped up across Twitter and Facebook. He was spotted filming outside the Get Fit Modesto studio on McHenry Avenue and going inside the Hy-Step Shoes store in the same plaza. He traveled with a small entourage of four to five people who were filming and handling logistics. George said the producers told her thrift shop employees that the footage was for a new music video for Macklemore. Others were told it was for a documentary on his grandmother’s 100th birthday this November.
“I think it’s great. It goes to show what kind of artist Macklemore is and that he is all about the family. I think it would be really cool to feature a town where his family is from like this,” said Get Fit Modesto Front Desk Manager Shelby Wallace, who saw the singer dancing with his grandma in the parking lot after buying her shoes at Hy-Step June 16.
The singer has branched out on his own for his new music, taking a break from his work with partner Ryan Lewis. His Modesto visit came on the same day of the release of his new single, “Glorious,” featuring Skylar Grey. Macklemore is pictured on the single cover art while wearing the same “Bill” emblazoned bowling shirt he was seen in while filming in Modesto. He also wore the same shirt during his performance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” Wednesday night. The song includes the line, “My grandma smiling down on me like, ‘Woo, that boy got bars.’ ”
His stop at the WinCo Foods Friday, June 16, brought interest and a little confusion. Modesto resident Patrice Parks went out to do her normal grocery shopping when she noticed people filming in the parking lot.
“I was just doing my normal grocery shopping and I was trying to park but there were these people with cameras in the way,” Parks said. “Then I saw this trailer and someone come out. I was like, ‘What’s this guy doing with this old lady?’ And then it clicked, that’s Macklemore.”
She said the performer is one of her favorite musicians, so she followed him around the store as they filmed and Macklemore and his grandmother rode in the motorized carts together. She said some of the people in the store didn’t know who Macklemore was or what was happening. But a small crowd formed to watch.
“You know it was one of those days where I didn’t want to leave the house, but I said I’ve got to go to the store,” Parks said. “But you don’t expect to go to WinCo and find a celebrity. It’s Modesto, you never see this kind of stuff happen. But it was really amazing.”