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Curio Shops across America | floss

Some consumers prefer to shop in large stores while others prefer smaller boutiques. And then there are the people who are looking for something more unusual. You may find these people in a curiosity business admiring torturous-looking Victorian medical devices, "human ivory" jewelry (also known as fingernails), and taxidermy preparations from two-headed calves every day.

Needless to say A strangeness store is pretty much Halloween. But what could be nicer than rummaging through their shelves and displays at this time of year, when we all, not just the collectors and connoisseurs, feel like something weird and maybe even scary and freaky? We recommend starting with these suppliers of strange goods from the USA.

. 1
Bazaar // Baltimore, Maryland

Greg Hatem and Brian Henry were two working days they did not like – Hatem was waiting for tables and Henry was working in a photo lab – when they decided to open the bazaar (clearly) playing a game with them the word bizarre ). "We both have weird collections, and there was a [retail] place in one of our favorite neighborhoods, and we decided to do it," Hatem says to Mental Floss. "It started as a material we found extremely strange – we had some rare albino specimens, and we had this one piece that looked like framed dog hair that won a dog show in 1974." The Ouija board was named in Baltimore, so Hatem and Henry of course sell a lot of it. The store also has a distinctive collection of candles, including fragrances such as the abandoned hospital, the overgrown graveyard, the plague doctor and séance. "Overgrown Cemetery has a dirty, earthy smell, and Séance has spiritual herbs," says Hatem. "Abandoned hospital smells like a rundown building." Well, of course!

The Ouija panels and candles live up to expectations. Bazaar does not disappoint when it comes to the unexpected. "I'd say one of the scariest things we have in our business is a sculpture from the gut," says Hatem. "The face is like a horse's face and has a female bust. We believe that they are pig intestines. "(In a follow-up email, Hatem said the sculpture was found in a deserted farmhouse during a cleanup of new owners and that he knows next to nothing.) Bazaar also has some original artwork from serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who was a prolific creator of drawings and paintings. "The piece by Gacy is actually written in felt-tip pen and shows his alter ego, pogo the clown," wrote Hatem. "I do not know if he has titled most of his plays, but among collectors it's commonly referred to as, Pogo & # 39 ;. The pogo pieces made with paint are among his most valuable works, but the marker is still a pretty scary one! "

. 2 Ballyhoo Curiosity Shop // Seattle, Washington

"I've sold more human bones than I can handle," says Ryan Robbins, owner of the Ballyhoo Curiosity Shop, opposite Mental Floss, but Homo sapiens parts aren & # 39; They are the only unusual specimens that you can find here. The shop also has a disassembled pigeon wrapped in resin – "you can see all internal organs" – and insects and taxidermy. Where does Robbins find all this stuff? "It started with me traveling around, and now that we have a good reputation, people will bring us stuff," says Robbins. "Or we go to the estate sale." An owner of a tattoo shop who had closed sold him a mummified cat. And Robbins also has some "dental phantoms" in the store. "They are weird," he said. "It's a metal faucet of a human head that looks like the terminator … It's basically a metal skeleton head, dentists practice them and they're very unusual and scary."

3. The Weeping Glass // Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Although Weeping Glass is teeming with curious and curious Tchotchkes, one of the coolest things about this Pittsburgh-based company is probably the event in the store, which features evenings of cocktails and performers narrating murder stories and one Mimic of Edgar Allan Poe reading Poe (can you hear the heart beating under the floorboards?). "We definitely see a pickup in the Halloween season, but we have a lot of traffic all year round," says Kelly Braden, co-owner. "Halloween is for us every day." Currently there is a full sheep skeleton in the shop as well as a warthog and a ostrich skull. A cat skeleton Braden calls Ramona "sleeping" on one of the chairs. And it would not be a weird shop without a two headed taxidermist cow (seriously, they all seem to have one). "His name is Dippy and he's from a private collector we're dealing with," explains Braden.

. 4 Obscura Antiques & Oddities // New York, New York

The term creepy is highly subjective, but there are certain antiques that have only one energy or a look at it that gives something to some people Inexplicable heebie-jeebies, according to Mike Zohn, co-owner of Obscura Antiques & Oddities. "Years ago, we had a really amazing shrunken head that looked like [haunted]," he says. "We had a brain in a jar many years ago. And Ouija boards – the people are properly cranked by Ouija . I've seen people turn and leave. I had people come in who said, "Oh my God, you should burn that." Obscura has a collection of Victorian death photos and other memorial and mourning objects. And everything that has anything to do with corporal or medical jobs is always a great success, according to Zohn: "We have corpse supplies, embalming tools. A medical amputation set. Terrible and intrusive medical items. "

Evan Michelson, co-owner of Obscura, who co-starred with Zohn in the Science Channel series Oddities is particularly familiar with Victorian jewelry many items made from human hair. "We still have a lot of human hair products – hair pieces from the 1850s. Human hair wreaths. Most of them date from the middle to the end of the 19th century, "Zohn says, but notes that hair jewelry is notoriously uncomfortable for wearing near the skin:" It can actually be abrasive. "And the hair wreaths? "People showed them in their homes," he says. "Some of them are monuments, some are almost like a pedigree – gray hair from grandma, aunt's red hair like that – not necessarily because someone died."

5 Las Vegas Oddities // Las Vegas, Nevada

"I had a boy come in and once pulled a skull out of a children's backpack, this skull was not fresh, so I did not call the police," says Vanessa VanAlstyne. Owner of Las Vegas Oddities. "Once a man had tried to sell me half a gallon of potassium cyanide from mining – that's enough potassium cyanide to kill off the entire strip." Las Vegas is crazy. "Given these stories, it's understandable why VanAlstyne can not shop from the street. "I have a lot of people who think Grandpa was a dentist or my dad was in his 40s in medicine."

There is no "typical" Las Vegas oddities customer VanAlstyne but visitors to their store are usually connoisseurs. "People who are in a field usually collect things from this field – many doctors or dentists or dental assistants," she says "A very circus city," says VanAlstyne – and, of course, natural history: the business sells everything from mounted beetles to taxidermied bats.

. 6 Uncommon Objects // Austin, Texas

Founded in 1991 as an antique collective, Austin's Uncommon Objects has, over the years, developed into a "unique trading center for transcendental waste", according to its website. compiled by 24 antique dealers. The shop does not just sell antiques. One of the most popular curiosities that Steve Wiman has ever sold was cowhide bales that naturally form in the stomach of a cow. "They lick their hair and they do not dissolve," says Wiman to Mental Floss. "They were not really heavy – they were spherical and looked like soft balls – but you could see tiny hairs and different sounds, I never knew what it would have been if I had not been told, but they came from a slaughterhouse . "(Cows can not vomit, so these hairballs are not found until after death.)" I sold the collection to someone who owned a livestock farm, and I think they ended up in a good home. "

In addition even though this may not happen intentionally, "Uncommon Objects is also acting on the semi-gross with the Creepy and Macabre." Sometimes people come in the front door and ask if we have any haunted items. Our answer is, "See if you feel there's anything going on here," he says, "Paranormal groups have come through and we've turned off the electricity in the store and they've discovered a lot of things that they believed "Wiman himself believes in ghosts?" I think most people who deal with old things find that there is an energy that is twisted or perverted, without it Explanation for this. "

One night the alarm went off and Wiman was The police called her into the store while they searched the premises, luckily it was a false alarm, but it came up with an idea for a business event." We're talking about doing flashlight tours around Halloween, "says Wiman." When I saw what they were seeing over a flashlight – like bumping into a baboon head or a scary doll – it was A very different experience than during the day. "

One of the store's most dedicated customers is The YouTube sensation Grav3yard Girl, which, with 8.5 million subscribers and regular Uncommon Objects offerings, is the business – and most likely the curio businesses in general – in Momentum brings. "Creepy dolls are one of the things she's been buying for many, many years," says Wiman. "She made her desirable to people they might not like."

. 7 Woolly Mammoth // Chicago, Illinois

Even the origins of Chicago's Woolly Mammoth – a "curiosity of curious, amusing and versatile objects that rise from the past" – are a bit scary, according to its website: Husband and Husband Die The idea came to Skye and Adam Rust in 2010 on a trip to Transylvania, Romania, where they visited places that are related to Vlad the Impaler Regrets. "We have acquired a medically prepared, mummified human head," they wrote in an e-mail on a shopping trip to Europe. "There were cutaways that showed facial nerves, eyelashes, and some mustaches. We have called him Alexander the Great and can barely take a picture of him without the stomach we have sold him bad. "

Like Bazaar in Baltimore, Woolly Mammoth also has a painting by John Wayne Gacy, but this one is probably even more disturbing than a notorious pogo drawing: it's Gacy's painted depiction of Adolf Hitler. And like Obscura in New York, Woolly Mammoth also sells Victorian funeral wreaths and nineteenth-century birth aids – especially head tribes (an instrument used to crush the skulls of stillborn fetuses) and a worm-mechanical trephine (a saw to remove a cylindrical fetus) Tissue or Bone.

8 Cleveland Curiosities // Cleveland, Ohio

According to Clement Kunkle, who owns Cleveland Curiosities with his wife Hallie Wallace, this generation is getting stranger, and since the age of 13, Kunkle himself has always been a bit happy and crazy, collecting skulls and engaging in bug-pinning projects and nature gathering. "It has become more and more of a profession," he tells Mental Floss, but at Cleveland Curiosities it is Wallace who runs butterfly tacking courses taught, and a friend of the photographer comes in and makes color photos for all who w In September, Butch Patrick, the actor who appeared to Eddie Munster in The Munsters appeared.

Creepy things in Cleveland Curiosities include old masquerade clowns and devil masks. The store has the required two-headed calf, abnormal medical human skulls and some Victorian human skeletons. Cleveland Curiosities sells lapel pins, prints and patches from various artists for the tighter customers in the Lakewood shopping district. "They're not too scary," says Kunkle, "but people feel good when they buy them because they're funny enough."

. 9 Ye Olde Curiosity Shop // Seattle, Washington

Founded in 1899, the Seattle Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is one of O.G. Curios shops. It all began when Joseph Edward Standley, later publicly known as "Daddy Standley," won a Clean Desk Award as a child and received a book on natural oddities from his teacher, according to Stanley's great-great-great grandson Neal James, one of the managers of the business. Standley began collecting all sorts of things and opened a grocery store as an adult, which he decorated with his various curios. "After a while, nobody could find the food anymore, and so he decided to open this shop," says James Mental Floss.

The shop sells framed spiders and bats, replicas of shrunken heads, animal skeletons and unusual taxidermy preparations. But it is the museum of the business that contains the most interesting artifacts. There are not one, but two mermaids in the Fiji Islands – an animal half of monkeys and half of fish, originating from Japanese sailors and owned by P.T. Barnum. Another unique sound similar to the mummified head of Woolly Mammoth. "We call him Medical Ed, and he's a mummified head that opens so you can examine all the internal parts," says James. "It seems to be something that was not very common, you can not find many of them anywhere." Other curious items include bone and ivory jewelry, (more) hairball from a cow's stomach, a preserved baby octopus, and a whale – Eardrum.

James is an encyclopaedia of business knowledge and speaks with infectious enthusiasm about every item and curiosity. "Does he intend to follow in the footsteps of his great-great-grandfather?" "For sure."

10th The Creeper Gallery // New Hope, Pennsylvania

Owners and artists DL Marian and Danielle Deveroux call their store a "totally unique gallery experience," and they're not kidding, the Creeper Gallery on Bridge Street, New Hope, Pennsylvania, is full of original works of art, taxidermized animals, secret society manuals, a human skeleton, and first editions of Edgar Allan Poe's works there is the Red Room, where you can see dolls, paintings, and even a leather ear horn that belonged to a civil war veteran. , Marian and Deveroux find items for the store worldwide: "There's no Walmart for it!" Deveroux told CBS. "So we hunt and peck, we go far and wide."

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