From Frodo to Jar Jar in a Jar: Vancouver 'nerd bar' auctions prized memorabilia

·3 min read
Memorabilia — including a mask of Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks, in a jar — that will be auctioned and sold are pictured at Storm Crow Alehouse in Vancouver, B.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.  The bar is one of the latest small businesses in Vancouver to shutter as the pandemic approaches the two-year mark. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Memorabilia — including a mask of Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks, in a jar — that will be auctioned and sold are pictured at Storm Crow Alehouse in Vancouver, B.C. on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. The bar is one of the latest small businesses in Vancouver to shutter as the pandemic approaches the two-year mark. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Jason Kapalka will be the first person to admit that Jar Jar in a Jar never quite took off as planned.

"We were trying to figure out a way where we could sell Jar Jar in a Jar fluid, where we'd sell shots of some sort of liquor out of it," said Kapalka, leaning beside the item that's become a fixture in the Storm Crow Alehouse bar.

"We did actually try it briefly, the problem was it was just so disgusting-looking that nobody bought it," he added.

The prop — a mask of Star Wars character Jar Jar Binks inside a glass jar — is one of many that Kapalka has put up for auction as the bar prepares to close the taps come Sunday.

It's one of the latest small businesses in Vancouver to shutter as the pandemic approaches the two-year mark. Kapalka says it was a confluence of challenges that forced him to call it a day.

"The final blow was Omicron and all that stuff coming up," he told CBC News. "But also a series of other headaches like the supply chain issues, labour shortages, and in our case, the Broadway [subway] construction."

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Auction takes off

The Storm Crow has long been Vancouver's self-proclaimed 'nerd bar', hosting screenings of fantasy and sci-fi programming like Game of Thrones, and even welcoming actors synonymous with the genre, including Lord of the Rings alum Elijah Wood.

"The funniest time was when some people came in and noticed he was sitting at a table under a picture of Frodo," said Kapalka.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Countless items on the walls, shelves and bar have added to the bar's atmosphere, and now long-time patrons have a chance to take them home.

Dozens of items are up for sale and auction, including a large replica of Han Solo frozen in carbonite. It's listed at $15,000.

The most expensive item, a custom-made Rancor head as seen in Star Wars, is listed at $25,000.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Other items on auction include a replica mask from the Predator franchise, Harley Quinn's Birds of Prey baseball bat, and a Hound's Helmet from Game of Thrones.

Strong reception

Proceeds are going to benefit staff and help cover the cost of the closure, Kapalka said.

"The reception from people has been really great," he said. "It's been a lot more bidding than we expected on some of the items, some stuff has gone for way more than it's really worth, I think mostly because people were wanting to show some loyalty to the bar and staff here."

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Jar Jar in a Jar, for example, was listed at $50 and has since sold for $250.

As for the future, Kapalka says there may be another Storm Crow location in Vancouver once the dust settles from the pandemic.

When it comes to decorating it, he won't be starting from scratch: Kapalka says there are a few items he intends to hang on to, although he won't say which ones.

"That's a secret," he said. "We'll see what stays and what goes."

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