Public Art

Top 10 Weirdest Stores in Los Angeles

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Thu, Apr 19, 2012 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge Meaghan Monster models Dapper Cadaver - COURTESY OF MARIANNE WILLIAMS PHOTOGRAPHY
See also "10 Oddball L.A. Museums Worth Seeing"

Looking for a book about the Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society? Perhaps you need a Jolly Roger doormat for the house. Maybe you just want to pick up some time-travel-sickness pills, a spray bottle of barbarian repellant or a few fresh dinosaur eggs before you blast to the past. Whatever your needs, Los Angeles is definitely not lacking in the quirky-shop department.

Our city's diverse population and its reputation as an arts metropolis give local merchants plenty of opportunity to sell unusual goods. Since many stores are independently owned, most of them don't just reflect unique tastes -- they are physical manifestations of someone's life work.

Like the Eagle Rock Rock and Eagle Shop, some stores are temporary pop-ups, while others, such as the L.A. County Coroner's Skeletons in the Closet and the Bodhi Tree metaphysical bookstore, have packed up and moved online (though Bodhi Tree's new owners plan to open a new location).

But a few brick-and-mortar gems continue to offer a selection of weird material, affording Angelenos a kind of public-art experience while promoting an overall creative mission. Here are 10 of our favorite strange boutiques.

click to enlarge The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and Its Circle - ZOE BELOFF
  • Zoe Beloff
  • The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and Its Circle
10. The Museum of Jurassic Technology Gift Shop

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is not just a museum -- it's curator David Wilson's evolving art project, and the museum's gift shop is inspired by a curious mix of arcane folklore, hidden histories and other odd bits of ephemera. Whether it's a pair of disappearing dice, a mechanical music-box set or a collection of matches decorated with images of dogs of the Soviet space program, the MJT's gift shop enables members of the public to take home a piece of Wilson's indefinable aesthetic to enjoy long after they've left his storefront museum. 9341 Venice Blvd., Culver City, 310-836-6131, mjtgiftshop.org

click to enlarge LEE JOSEPH
  • Lee Joseph
9. Wacko/Soap Plant

This Hollywood-based shop is another trip through the mind of an eccentric Angeleno -- store proprietor Billy Shire. The assortment of unique books, bizarre sundries and limited-edition toys at Wacko/Soap Plant actually inspired an adjoining art space called La Luz de Jesus, which exhibits lowbrow and pop-surrealist art from the likes of Gary Baseman, Camille Rose Garcia and others. 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-663-0122, soapplant.com

click to enlarge SHINE.jpg
8. Shine Gallery

Shine Gallery at the Farmers Market reflects Bernie Shine's treasure trove of dead-stock Americana. Here you'll find everything from antique novelties and sports memorabilia to old carnival prizes and vintage political pins. You'll also find semi-offensive paper Halloween masks in packages of eight, including a caricature of Satan. 6333 W. Third St., #134, 323-954-4700, shinegallery.com

click to enlarge SOCKMARKET.COM
  • sockmarket.com
7. Los Angeles Sock Market

Socks themselves aren't weird, but an entire store stocked with the garment is a different matter altogether -- especially considering this place is smack dab in the middle of the Universal CityWalk tourist mecca. It's not like most people think of socks when they want to pick up a few souvenirs, but still, the Los Angeles Sock Market has its devoted clientele. The so-called "world's greatest sock place" -- which also has an outpost in San Francisco -- sells foot cozies in every possible size, shape, color, style and material, so no lower extremity is left behind. 1000 Universal Studios Blvd., Suite 140, Universal City, 818-509-1340, sockmarket.com

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