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A pithy summary of what is to be observed inside of Berkeley’s new candy-coloured Curiosity Store around Civic Middle Park is displayed in bold lettering just higher than the front doorway: “100,000 Matters YOU Really don’t Need.”
Curiosity Shop, 2214 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley
According to its eccentric owner Bryce Kalousek-Maritano, who once dabbled in copywriting, the shop has two other slogans: “Cool. Things. Low cost.” and “We Obtain/Sell/Trade/Fix and Appraise Tiny Ineffective Objects.”
All a few capture the essence of this jam-packed keep, which doubles as a gallery celebrating American feminism.
The shop opened on Dec. 24 in a historic early 20th-century making on MLK Way that at the time served as the household of the Black Panthers and the Peace and Liberty Social gathering, and some of its choices have a political bent, like the classic buttons emblazoned with rallying cries displayed on the entrance door.
The retail outlet is dripping with items, its home windows crammed with bracelets, necklaces and paintings. Inside of, the “good, affordable stuff” can be located from floor to ceiling, in baskets and screen conditions, on the walls, doors, windows — even hanging from the ceiling.
Selling prices begin at 10 cents for a small tumbled stone and go up to $8,000 for a painting by the Belgian surrealist Suzanne van Damme. But largely, Kalousek-Maritano claims, “I provide greenback points and 5-dollar points.”
Additional than anything else, Curiosity Store capabilities a jaw-dropping assortment of costume jewelry, what Kalousek-Maritano thinks is the world’s greatest.
“I’ve scoured the internet and discovered individuals who declare to have the major selection of costume jewellery and they have 1,500 pieces,” he suggests. “I have about 45,000.”
The collection incorporates Roman fibula, or toga clasps, which he suggests date from around the 2nd century, and medieval crosses, each and every of which market for $30. There are rows and rows of chain bracelets, necklaces with pendants, groovy square chain necklaces from the ’70s and kitschy plastic necklaces, bangles and earrings, arranged by shade. (If you’re dressing for a period of time costume social gathering — or just enjoy the character of vintage parts — this is the area to store.)
Kalousek-Maritano made some of that costume jewellery in a earlier lifestyle — and he has had a lot of. He’s a previous hippie UC Berkeley dropout-turned-graduate who earned a master’s in cognitive science, taught psychology at the college or university level and, along the way, traveled and persevered as an itinerant shopkeeper who’s had 20 incarnations of the retailer he first opened in Escondido in 1966. Then termed Libra of California, following the astrological signal, the shop morphed into the Curiosity Shop in the late ’80s and appeared in many West Coast locations, most notably on the Venice Beach Boardwalk and in a caboose in Corvallis, Oregon. A pop-up edition sprouted on Telegraph Avenue in 1995.
In spite of the owner’s intriguing and much-flung track record, Kalousek-Maritano eschews the highlight and refuses to be photographed.
“The retailer is not about me, but the stuff and, socially, about the girls who painted these paintings,” he states. As to why he’s made such a shop? A 2017 short article in The Corvallis Advocate reveals that both his grandmother and mom have been active in feminist movements. His Czech grandmother was a union leader in the Chicago women’s garment marketplace who attended salons with the likes of Mark Twain, Emma Goldman, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. His mother was a novelist and later a blacklisted Hollywood writer who tried using to manage the comedian reserve field all through the postwar era. He adopted in their footsteps by remaining a strike organizer for the Writer’s Guild of The usa and the California Instructors Association.
Viewing the shop needs a leisurely speed to thoroughly choose in the menagerie: a huge array of Czech rhinestones, both of those very clear and colored, vintage textiles relationship as much again as the 18th century, Indigenous American jewellery and beadwork, sheet new music, crystals and rocks, classic souvenir spoons, stained glass bouquets, seashells, baseball playing cards, a youngsters area with mini dinosaurs, plastic balls and stickers, and sweet marketed by the piece.
The ephemera, jewellery and artwork from America’s feminist actions (1848-1920 and 1960-1970s) lend a museum-like truly feel to the position, with Kalousek-Maritano performing as curator.
There are pins (“ERA Of course!”), embroidered samplers with feminist slogans, adhere pins employed as a variety of self-protection all through to start with-wave feminism ($20 and up) and reprised as assertion jewelry through the second wave ($5). Paintings that celebrate women of all ages as artist or subject involve the work of 10 modern day artists he promotes, among them awyn, Defergi and Ehren Snyder. “I’m also likely to be handling local, contemporary artists,” Kalousek-Maritano suggests, “but I just received below.”
While it’s true that visitors may not have to have something this eccentric shopkeeper sells, a walk-by way of will very likely expose a little something, as its identify implies, to pique — and most likely fulfill — one’s curiosity.
Curiosity Store, 2214 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley. Hours: each day, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Joanne Furio moved to Berkeley for the reason that it has sidewalks. She specializes in structure in all its incarnations, innovation and the arts.