Like Jack and his magic beanstalk, Urban Outfitters President Richard Hayne turned a few hippie beans into a hip $700 million retail empire.
But the two never lost touch, running into each other back home over holidays. When the Summer of Love flowered in 1967, the romance rekindled. And two years later, after graduating from college, with the Vietnam War reaching the zenith of its brutal pointlessness and student opposition swelling, they were married in the woods behind Judy's house.
The war--and maybe a little Dylan and marijuana--radicalized Dick and Judy, liberating them from the stifling '50s orthodoxy into which they were born.
"Dick really rebelled against authority," Wicks recalls. "He was the first one to grow long hair in my town. He was the first one to speak out against the status quo and say, 'Hey, [the war] is wrong.' That was one of the reasons why I admired him."
Looking to do something to affect social change--and well aware that Dick's deferred draft status ended with his graduation--the newlyweds joined VISTA, the domestic volunteer program.
The two soon found themselves stationed in Chefornak, Alaska, building houses and teaching Eskimos how to speak English. The 10 months the couple spent in Alaska were as hard as they were rewarding. The temperature typically hovered around 30 degrees below zero, not counting the wind chill factor, and even though the shack they shared was oil-heated, it was still cold enough inside to freeze the water in the dog's bowl.
"You opened the door at night and it was just solid white," says Wicks. "The snow had drifted over the top of your cabin and you had to dig your way out."
Bathing was a rare and shiver-inducing luxury. The only entertainment was the Russian radio broadcasts and the one Elvis record they had in the shack--both of which were limited to the two hours a day of rationed, generator-powered electricity. They subsisted on seal meat, canned goods and shipments of frozen steaks.
After 10 months Dick and Judy's tour of duty came to a premature end when the state pulled the plug on Alaska's VISTA program. The state was in the process of settling land rights disputes with the native population--which had great difficulty grasping the completely foreign concept of "owning" land--and didn't much appreciate a bunch of smart-aleck longhaired college kids clueing them in to the legal ramifications of the state's land grab.
In 1970 Dick and Judy headed back to Ingomar with a combined $3,000 in VISTA stipends to their names. Then came the day Dick's old college roommate, Scott Belair, came to visit, and over beers they discussed they should do next.
Dick and Judy told him they were thinking about starting a store of some kind. Belair, who was enrolled at Wharton, told them that they should come to Philadelphia. Belair had a class in entrepreneurism the next semester and said he could get course credit while helping out with the business end of things. Belair threw $1,500 into the pot, and the deal was struck.
That fall Dick and Judy loaded up their Volvo station wagon and moved to Philadelphia. They opened their store at 4307 Locust St. in University City, right next door to Koch's Deli. In the spirit of the times, they named it the Free People's Store and hung a sign out front that was shaped liked a peace dove.
Free People's Store became a general store for students, offering affordable yet fashionable clothes and assorted bohemian bric-a-brac. The store was also a locus for various causes and events.
Though money was tight, Dick and Judy compensated with ingenuity and sacrifice. They lived in the back room of the store, showering at friends' houses.
They would go to Chinatown on garbage day, trashpick the wooden produce crates, clean them up, paint them and make shelving out of them. The huge wooden spools the power company used to coil cables served as tables. A local ragman who typically sold clothing by the ton took pity on these broke hippie kids and sold them clothes by the pound.
They would buy cheap men's undershirts and dye them various colors or drive up to New York and load up on cut-rate Asian imports--incense burners and Madras bedspreads. Students moving out would donate clothes, leaving them on the store's front step.
For those who couldn't even afford Free People's bargain-basement prices, there was a "free bin." A pair of old-fashioned men's long johns hung on the door, and during store hours the rear flap would be unbuttoned to display a sign that read "OPEN."
"We were very anti-business, and we felt that big business was the root of the Vietnam War," says Wicks. "Our philosophy was to simply make enough to live on modestly, but we wouldn't accumulate wealth."
While the store thrived in its first year of business, Dick and Judy's marriage did not, and by 1971 they went their separate ways. Judy went on to open the highly successful White Dog Cafe, where she would host and coordinate countless social and community activist campaigns, while Dick went on to build the Urban Outfitters empire out of the humble beginnings of Free People.
As of press time, his personal wealth was estimated to be in excess of $230 million.
PW's 2014 College Issue
PW's Music Issue 2014