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Eccentric new Berkeley Curiosity Shop has 45,000 costume jewellery pieces

Curiosity Shop, a keep presenting all the things from Czech rhinestones to stick pins utilised as a sort of self-protection for the duration of to start with-wave feminism, opened at 2214 Martin Luther King Jr. Way on Dec. 24. Credit history: Joanne Furio

A pithy summary of what’s to be discovered inside of Berkeley’s new sweet-colored Curiosity Store in the vicinity of Civic Middle Park is shown in daring lettering just above the entrance door: “100,000 Matters YOU Really don’t Require.”

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

According to its eccentric owner Bryce Kalousek-Maritano, who when dabbled in copywriting, the keep has two other slogans: “Cool. Things. Cheap.” and “We Acquire/Offer/Trade/Restore and Appraise Small Ineffective Objects.” 

All three capture the essence of this jam-packed shop, which doubles as a gallery celebrating American feminism. 

The shop opened on Dec. 24 in a historic early 20th-century building on MLK Way that once served as the residence of the Black Panthers and the Peace and Independence Get together, and some of its choices have a political bent, like the classic buttons emblazoned with rallying cries displayed on the entrance door. 

The retail store is dripping with items, its windows crammed with bracelets, necklaces and paintings. Inside of, the “good, low-priced stuff” can be discovered from flooring to ceiling, in baskets and display cases, on the walls, doors, home windows — even hanging from the ceiling. 

Rates get started at 10 cents for a tiny tumbled stone and go up to $8,000 for a painting by the Belgian surrealist Suzanne van Damme. But generally, Kalousek-Maritano claims, “I offer greenback issues and 5-greenback matters.” 

Additional than everything else, Curiosity Store options a jaw-dropping assortment of costume jewellery, what Kalousek-Maritano thinks is the world’s most significant. 

“I’ve scoured the online and located individuals who claim to have the greatest assortment of costume jewelry and they have 1,500 parts,” he states. “I have about 45,000.” 

The selection involves Roman fibula, or toga clasps, which he states date from all around the second 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 appreciate the character of classic pieces — this is the location to store.)

Kalousek-Maritano created some of that costume jewellery in a past existence — and he has had lots of. He’s a former hippie UC Berkeley dropout-turned-graduate who earned a master’s in cognitive science, taught psychology at the university amount and, alongside the way, traveled and persevered as an itinerant shopkeeper who’s had 20 incarnations of the retail outlet he 1st opened in Escondido in 1966. Then known as Libra of California, soon after the astrological indicator, the retail store morphed into the Curiosity Store in the late ’80s and appeared in several West Coast locations, most notably on the Venice Beach Boardwalk and in a caboose in Corvallis, Oregon. A pop-up model sprouted on Telegraph Avenue in 1995. 

Despite the owner’s intriguing and considerably-flung background, Kalousek-Maritano eschews the spotlight and refuses to be photographed. 

“The retailer is not about me, but the things and, socially, about the females who painted these paintings,” he claims. As to why he’s developed these a store? A 2017 posting in The Corvallis Advocate reveals that each his grandmother and mom ended up lively in feminist actions. ​​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 mom was a novelist and later on a blacklisted Hollywood writer who tried out to manage the comedian reserve sector all through the postwar era. He adopted in their footsteps by becoming a strike organizer for the Writer’s Guild of The usa and the California Instructors Affiliation.

Going to the store calls for a leisurely pace to fully acquire in the menagerie: a significant array of Czech rhinestones, each obvious and colored, classic textiles dating as considerably back as the 18th century, Indigenous American jewelry and beadwork, sheet new music, crystals and rocks, vintage souvenir spoons, stained glass bouquets, seashells, baseball cards, a youngsters area with mini dinosaurs, plastic balls and stickers, and sweet marketed by the piece. 

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

The ephemera, jewellery and artwork from America’s feminist actions lend a museum-like feel to Curiosity Store. Credit score: Joanne Furio

There are pins (“ERA Of course!”), embroidered samplers with feminist slogans, adhere pins utilised as a kind of self-defense through initially-wave feminism ($20 and up) and reprised as assertion jewelry all through the second wave ($5). Paintings that celebrate ladies as artist or issue include the work of 10 modern day artists he encourages, between them awyn, Defergi and Ehren Snyder. “I’m also going to be dealing with neighborhood, up to date artists,” Kalousek-Maritano states, “but I just received listed here.”

Though it’s real that visitors might not want just about anything this eccentric shopkeeper sells, a wander-by will probable expose a thing, as its name implies, to pique — and possibly satisfy — one’s curiosity. 

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

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