Eccentric new Berkeley Curiosity Store has 45,000 costume jewelry pieces

Curiosity Store, a retail outlet featuring everything from Czech rhinestones to stick pins utilised as a variety of self-defense during initially-wave feminism, opened at 2214 Martin Luther King Jr. Way on Dec. 24. Credit history: Joanne Furio

A pithy summary of what is to be uncovered inside of Berkeley’s new candy-coloured Curiosity Store in the vicinity of Civic Middle Park is displayed in daring lettering just over the entrance door: “100,000 Things YOU Really do not Want.”

Curiosity Store, 2214 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley

In accordance to its eccentric proprietor Bryce Kalousek-Maritano, who after dabbled in copywriting, the store has two other slogans: “Cool. Things. Low-cost.” and “We Acquire/Promote/Trade/Mend and Appraise Tiny Ineffective Objects.” 

All a few seize the essence of this jam-packed keep, which doubles as a gallery celebrating American feminism. 

The store opened on Dec. 24 in a historic early 20th-century building on MLK Way that after served as the home of the Black Panthers and the Peace and Independence Occasion, and some of its offerings have a political bent, like the vintage buttons emblazoned with rallying cries exhibited on the entrance doorway. 

The store is dripping with products, its windows crammed with bracelets, necklaces and paintings. Within, the “good, inexpensive stuff” can be located from ground to ceiling, in baskets and show conditions, on the walls, doorways, home windows — even hanging from the ceiling. 

Prices start off at 10 cents for a little tumbled stone and go up to $8,000 for a painting by the Belgian surrealist Suzanne van Damme. But mainly, Kalousek-Maritano suggests, “I promote greenback things and five-greenback matters.” 

Extra than nearly anything else, Curiosity Shop functions a jaw-dropping assortment of costume jewelry, what Kalousek-Maritano thinks is the world’s biggest. 

“I’ve scoured the internet and discovered people who assert to have the most significant assortment of costume jewelry and they have 1,500 parts,” he suggests. “I have about 45,000.” 

The assortment includes Roman fibula, or toga clasps, which he claims date from all over the next century, and medieval crosses, every single of which offer for $30. There are rows and rows of chain bracelets, necklaces with pendants, groovy sq. chain necklaces from the ’70s and kitschy plastic necklaces, bangles and earrings, organized by coloration. (If you are dressing for a period of time costume occasion — or just adore the character of classic items — this is the area to store.)

Kalousek-Maritano intended some of that costume jewellery in a prior daily life — and he has experienced several. He’s a former hippie UC Berkeley dropout-turned-graduate who attained a master’s in cognitive science, taught psychology at the college degree and, together the way, traveled and persevered as an itinerant shopkeeper who’s had 20 incarnations of the keep he to start with opened in Escondido in 1966. Then referred to as Libra of California, just after the astrological indication, the store morphed into the Curiosity Shop in the late ’80s and appeared in many West Coastline spots, most notably on the Venice Beach front Boardwalk and in a caboose in Corvallis, Oregon. A pop-up variation sprouted on Telegraph Avenue in 1995. 

Inspite of the owner’s intriguing and considerably-flung qualifications, Kalousek-Maritano eschews the spotlight and refuses to be photographed. 

“The retail outlet is not about me, but the stuff and, socially, about the ladies who painted these paintings,” he states. As to why he’s established these a store? A 2017 write-up in The Corvallis Advocate reveals that both of those his grandmother and mom ended up lively in feminist movements. ​​His Czech grandmother was a union chief in the Chicago women’s garment sector who attended salons with the likes of Mark Twain, Emma Goldman, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. His mom was a novelist and later a blacklisted Hollywood author who attempted to organize the comic e-book field through the postwar era. He adopted in their footsteps by getting a strike organizer for the Writer’s Guild of The united states and the California Teachers Affiliation.

Browsing the shop requires a leisurely rate to completely just take in the menagerie: a huge array of Czech rhinestones, both of those obvious and colored, classic textiles courting as much back again as the 18th century, Indigenous American jewellery and beadwork, sheet tunes, crystals and rocks, classic memento spoons, stained glass flowers, seashells, baseball cards, a young children area with mini dinosaurs, plastic balls and stickers, and sweet marketed by the piece. 

The ephemera, jewelry and artwork from America’s feminist movements (1848-1920 and 1960-1970s) lend a museum-like come to feel to the location, with Kalousek-Maritano acting as curator.

The ephemera, jewelry and artwork from America’s feminist movements lend a museum-like come to feel to Curiosity Store. Credit history: Joanne Furio

There are pins (“ERA Certainly!”), embroidered samplers with feminist slogans, adhere pins used as a form of self-protection for the duration of 1st-wave feminism ($20 and up) and reprised as assertion jewelry for the duration of the second wave ($5). Paintings that celebrate women as artist or subject contain the function of 10 contemporary artists he encourages, amongst them awyn, Defergi and Ehren Snyder. “I’m also going to be handling neighborhood, contemporary artists,” Kalousek-Maritano claims, “but I just got right here.”

Although it is legitimate that visitors might not need to have anything this eccentric shopkeeper sells, a stroll-by will probable expose a little something, as its name suggests, to pique — and probably satisfy — one’s curiosity. 

Curiosity Store, 2214 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley. Hrs: day-to-day, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Joanne Furio moved to Berkeley due to the fact it has sidewalks. She specializes in design and style in all its incarnations, innovation and the arts.