Salvage City: Fortune Teller Bar's Sam Coffey Gets a TV Show, But Is It Good for St. Louis?
If all this is starting to sound like trespassing and stealing, it is.
"That's the question everybody's asking," he says. "Is it legal to go into a building if you don't have permission? Is it legal to trespass? No. Is it legal to steal things? No."
But Coffey says he doesn't feel like a criminal.
"We have a different mission in mind, and that is to bring awareness to these buildings," he says.
See also: Best New Bar: The Fortune Teller Bar Expands, Develops New Liquor Lab and Kitchen
KDHX Another salvaged creation at KDHX
Coffey's show has already ruffled a few feathers. Even before it airs, promos paint River City as Detroit, Jr., abandoned by industry and left to drown in blight. St. Louisans worry portraying their city as mid-death rattle on national television is harmful to the city's image.
"I could not disagree more," he responds. "I think they're going to see St. Louis in a more positive light. When people who've never been to St. Louis see this show, I think we do a pretty good job conveying how beautiful the city really is."
For Coffey, that beauty comes from River City's urban decay -- not so much the aesthetics of the city's blighted buildings, but from the opportunity.
"I think people will see St. Louis is full of opportunities, not that St. Louis is full of decay."