Los Feliz's Soap Plant Wacko is an extraordinary emporium of odds and ends (mostly odds). Its stock is so fascinating and diverse, it can be perused for hours or burst into like a bat out of hell when you're desperate to find the perfect last-minute gift. Between its selection of unicorn statuettes, taxidermy beetles and rare art books — and that's barely scratching the surface — there really is something for everyone. Owner Billy Shire has personally managed the merchandising since he took over the family business in the early 1980s. What originally began in 1971 as a handmade soap shop in Los Feliz eventually moved to Melrose Avenue when Shire took the reins, then found its current home on Hollywood Boulevard in 1995. Since then, Soap Plant Wacko has become an L.A. landmark with its vibrant murals, which can be spotted blocks away. Aside from offering an unparalleled assortment of prized collectibles and curious baubles, Soap Plant Wacko's La Luz de Jesus art gallery has been displaying the works of underground artists for the past 30 years, showcasing California's so-called lowbrow art movement.
Credit: Rebecca Pardess