Lansdale’s The Archive is keeping physical media alive


Tyler Letcher

One of The Archive’s book and magazine sections, in its rear storeroom

LANSDALE – Sitting across the street from newly built townhouses and two blocks away from Lansdale’s bustling main street sits a warehouse. Unassuming in nature, most would presume that it houses medical equipment, or building materials. The real truth couldn’t be more different.

In this warehouse is The Archive, a massive collection of paper goods – also known as ephemera, – as well as CDs, coins, records, and basically any type of physical media from any era you could think of. Want a copy of Newsweek from when Reagan was elected president? No problem, second room from the back. A copy of your favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers record? You’ll probably find it in one of their countless crates of albums.

Owner and founder Dale Mechalas has shared his interest in memorabilia since his childhood, and started his first iteration of The Archive in 1989. “We’ve been open since 1989, but not at this location. Our first business was in Abington, just in a regular-sized retail space, but the owners of the buildings I would rent from would keep selling, effectively kicking me out. Eventually, I knew I had to settle down,” says Mechalas.

The building currently housing The Archive wasn’t always a retail-friendly spot; in fact, it was an industrial warehouse. 

“It was Young’s Medical; one of their supply warehouses where they would put together hospital beds and store medical supplies,” Mechalas remarked. “I had to go to the town council and get it re-zoned for retail use; the work alone to get it ready took 8 months, and we finally opened in 2007.”

I had to go to the town council and get it re-zoned for retail use; the work alone to get it ready took 8 months, and we finally opened in 2007

— Dale Mechalas, Owner

Even with all that space, room can still be an issue. When taking on more items, their purchasing style is less like American pickers, buying one or two items at a time, and more so like buying whole houses full of a certain type of item.

 “[Space] is always an issue. I mean, I have a storage unit with stuff in it, and even that can’t handle the overflow,” Mechalas said. “The issue is having both space to put items and having space to sort them in the first place. It’s like a giant Rubik’s cube; to move one thing, you have to move others.”

It’s true what their customers will tell you: if you look, you can find it at the archive. Oddities such as letters from jailed killers have been sold, according to manager and social media coordinator Kyle Waeltz.

 “We had a note from a serial killer to his sister from prison, who was later executed. A woman bought it from us, but had to return it two weeks later, because she swore that weird stuff started happening. As it turned out, we had to get rid of it too, as after we took it back, weird stuff started happening to us. Lights turning on and off, hearing noises when nobody else was in the store, that kind of stuff.”

The store, as it turns out though, doesn’t only serve as a store. It also serves as a Hollywood prop house. The store’s management has worked with major Hollywood studios and directors such as M. Night Shyamalan to provide props, like books and memorabilia, to films. Currently, they’re working on a Bradley Cooper biopic about Leonard Bernstein.

“[We work with Hollywood] all the time,” Mechalas said. “We’ve worked on many TV shows; Gossip Girl, Gotham, CNN specials about Abraham Lincoln, and, currently, one on Thomas Jefferson. We had to recreate an entire pharmacy from 1957 for the remake of West Side Story. A lot of the props are books, which we’ll ship off, and they’ll ship back, almost like a rental service.”

But you don’t have to be a Hollywood big-wig or a history snob to appreciate The Archive’s wares. One of its more popular programs is its online Archive Auction, run through a site called HiBid. 

“The auction specializes in pop culture, and is online only. It’s stuff like comic books, toys, baseball cards, sports collectibles, some antiques, and stuff like that,”  Dale said. One item which sold through their auction, a newsstand edition of a Spider-Man comic book, recently sold for nearly $16,000, their highest end item to date.

While items from The Auction can be picked up or shipped to you, one can always pop into the store to browse for their everyday wares. 

We’re not trying to be the most well-kept secret in Lansdale

— Dale Mechalas, Owner

“We’re not trying to be the most well-kept secret in Lansdale,” Mechalas quipped.

 The store goes from a room full of historical documents, coins and letters when you first come in, branching out to rooms for different types of books, going back to the larger media area. Here, you can find CDs, DVDs, records, magazines, comic books, and more (if you really look)!

The second floor contains items all selling for lower prices, and is filled with books, magazines, some cassettes, and just stacks and stacks of items. Looking over the walls of the second floor, seeing all the overflow items not yet for sale, really pushes the point of just how many items are here.If you collect any physical items, there’s a good chance that either The Archive or its auction has it, or will at some point. Check them out from Thursday through Sunday, between 11 A.M. and 6 P.M. at 725 West Second Street in Lansdale. You can find their auction online at If you do check them out, however, make sure you don’t have anything else to do in the day; it’s easy to lose track of time, and spend hours looking around!