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Weird businesses in your area

Dan

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Tell us about weird businesses in your area. By "weird" I mean:
  • Weird merchandise.
  • Weird decor.
  • Weird employees/owner.
  • Generally weird vibe.
In the neighborhood I grew up in, there used to be a store that sold ... beer cans and brewerania. From what I remember, the place was open only four days a week, I think Wednesday through Saturday, 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

In another Buffalo neighborhood, one which went further down the tubes than the place I grew up in, there was a relic of a retailer that was in business until just recently - a fedora store. It's amazing that their business lasted so long after 1960, but apparently they held on. Are there still any real hat stores -- not baseball cap, but old fashioned hat stores -- in business anywhere outside of NYC?

Buffalo also had several Catholic supply stores; shops that sold nothing but Virgin Mary statues, candles, and other items related to Catholic rituals, apparently for religious do-it-yourselfers.

There's a store not far from where I live now that sells nothing but air and water purifiers - "The Good Living Store." Whenever I walk by, I never see any customers in the place, but occasioanlly, there will be some sort of meeting or something going on; several folks just sitting in chairs arranged in a circle. That's another category I'd like to add - the business where you never see any customers, yet it's been there forever and you have no idea how they make money.

A few doors down from the air filter store is a store that sells nothing but parts scrapped from elderly computers; 500 megabyte hard drives, 12" monitors, ISA network cards, ancient AT cases, 5 1/4" floppy drives, and so on ... along with overpriced computers made up from what are apparently the best scrapped parts they get. ($500 for 400 MHz boxes, etc.) The personalities of the employees are along the lines of "Nick Burns: Your Company's Computer Guy" from SNL and "The Comic Book Guy" from the Simpsons.

Across the street is a gunsmith. I've never seen it open, but apparantly the place is in business.
 

Jen

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How about a huge junk yard and salvage recycling operation in the middle of a state game/conservation area? Been there since '47, a whole valley of junked auto parts in the heart of the Cannonsburg state game area.
 

Starrdarcy

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I the city of , we have a "run-down" section of town were the land value is low, and were all the bums hang out. There is one building were it really shows.

there is 4 story building, wre the old Eatons used to be. But it shut down, and all that is left of it is a heaping pile of wast. There was a arson fire that destroyed the top floor. The owners that purchased the building just before the blaze, were supposed to clean up the mess. But the didn't, and the city isn't allowed to clean up the eye sore.

The result is an old run down, partly burned, rotting building. There is squaters who frequently use the building to sleep in, and do drugs and so forth. There is graffiti all over the walls, inside and out. the windows are all broken, they have been covered up, but someone keeps on talking the wood down.

What i thought was weird about he building is that even before the building was strange. The original building was only one story, but the building was added on to. There was so many add ons, that by the late 90's the building was an eyesore. All those different building styles in one building looked very ugly. in 1986, there was a renovation, or that was what the owners said. But what really was going on was that the building was falling apart because of the extra add-ons, and floors. people mentioned that just prior to the so-called "renovations," the building felt like it was lop-sided. There was one section of the builing were it felt like it was tilted downward, the ceilings were cracked, and there were frequent problems with the plumbing and electrical. After the building was renovated, the owners put the building up for sale. Eatons soon bought it, but the building's apperance didn't change that much. After the company falled, the Eatons store closed out. And what was left was ugly. I don't know why new owners took up the place, maybe they wanted it for something, but they never got the permit.

I hope the city does something about it, its getting to be a very big problem.
 

Seabishop

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Next door to my old apartment was the Y2K Store – It was an empty storefront painted to say Y2K Store in bubble graffitti letters, but it never opened. Now that its 2003 there’s still no activity. A guy would throw raves all night in the apartment above it.

Tea House of the Almighty – Anyone near Brockton, MA knows the big Tea House of the Almighty sign on Main Street. From peeking through the window it looks like an always empty Carribean religious bookstore.

I’ve mentioned the Professional Wrestling School before.
 

Repo Man

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A place in Milwaukee called "Art Smart's Dart Mart and Juggling Emporium" You can pretty much tell what they sell by the name. They also have disc golf, hackey sacs, frisbees, and other low-key sporting goods.

Goldmann's - a 50's style department store. Picture the department store from "A Christmas Story." Complete with a lunch counter.

American Science & Surplus - all kinds of weird stuff from scientific equipment to toys. You can spend hours in here.
 

Cardinal

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We have a guy in town who deals in Civil War era arms - rifles, muskets, pistols, parts, etc. Unfortunately, his shop is generally not open, as he does most of his business at shows and through the mail. It is an amazing collection.
 

nerudite

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I always wonder about the little art galleries in some mid-sized towns. There are towns around 30,000 that are too big and sterile to be cute and touristy, too small to really have a an "art scene" and yet there will often be a gallery in the downtown that gets the occasional customer. We have 50,000 people in our town and I have only seen a few people go into our gallery. I always wonder how these places survive.
 

jestes

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Saw one on the way to the coast last week that had a generally weird combination: Cargo Trailers and Hospital Scrubs. Go figure.
 

BKM

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It doesn't sound wierd on the surface, but "Shirley's Boutique" is a pretty unique junk/used goods store on the fringe of downtown. What's interesting about it is the fact thaty it steadily spreads along the sidewalks, and the proprietress (sp?), an older, fast-talking woman in her 70s, sets up a series of lawn chairs for local buddies and homeless ne'er do wells. Its quite the scene.

When I first did code enforcement, we used to try and encourage her to restrain her "outdoor merchandise display," but we've just given up by now :)
 

michaelskis

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hair cut

There is a place here, we will call it Joe's (but it is some other simple name) were you can get a hair cut and a beer... at the same time. I don't know if he has a permit for any of it, but I don't think any one is going to tell on him.
 

H

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Butt Implant Surgeon.

This falls under the plastic surgery category, but OMG, how stupid is this. It happens to be the new “craze” in Miami. There was a news story about it the other week. They interviewed one lady and she said how much it has “improved” her life.
 

biscuit

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Re: hair cut

michaelskis said:
There is a place here, we will call it Joe's (but it is some other simple name) were you can get a hair cut and a beer... at the same time. I don't know if he has a permit for any of it, but I don't think any one is going to tell on him.
Are those places uncommon here in Pennsylvania? (Unfortunately I haven't been offered a drink yet) It was pretty common down in Charleston to be offered either wine or beer at the more "posh" places while getting your hair cut. A couple of beers and a head massage...It doesn't get any better.
 

michaelskis

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Re: Re: hair cut

biscuit said:
Are those places uncommon here in Pennsylvania?
I have not been here all that long, but it is a first for me.

Oh that and the strip club that is a bring your own beer. I love it, the barber will serve, but not the strip club.
 
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Re: Re: Re: hair cut

michaelskis said:


Oh that and the strip club that is a bring your own beer. I love it, the barber will serve, but not the strip club.

I just love that those places are not called "Strip Clubs" but "Juice Bars". hee!
 

donk

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There is our gun shop and grocery store (see the image gallery)

The other common thing here is bicycle shop and fireplace/stove store.

Recently, a few scrapbook stores have opened as home occupations.
 

H

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Re: hair cut

michaelskis said:
There is a place here, we will call it Joe's (but it is some other simple name) were you can get a hair cut and a beer... at the same time. I don't know if he has a permit for any of it, but I don't think any one is going to tell on him.
Where I went to undergrad (Oxford, Miss) there was a barber named “Bonnie the Butcher”, she always had a cooler of free miller lite to drink while you waited.

Side note. Last time I got my hair cut there was about a year ago (I had friends and family in Oxford so I would visit often even though I have not lived there in about 5 years). Anyway, I called to make and appointment and she asked me to pick up some beer on the way. Instead of pay, I took a free haircut and some shampoos in trade.
Gotta love the barter system.

Other side note: She drank the beer too, so you don’t get you haircut after 2 as a rule.
 

biscuit

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Re: Re: Re: Re: hair cut

Downtown said:
I just love that those places are not called "Strip Clubs" but "Juice Bars". hee!
I had a friend who just returned from Okinawa (sic), Japan where they have Juice Bars and let me tell you, from the way he described it, it's not a place where you'd want to eat the fruit.
 
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Cardinal

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Now that I think of it, there was an ice cream and real estate shop in Escalante, Utah. It is in an old "tastee-freeze" type of building. I've previously mentioned the non-profit ice cream shop in Moab. When I get home I will post a picture of a gas station.
 

Dan

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Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue in Kansas City, Kansas is in a working gas station. Great barbecue, too.

I forgot about a few places in the neighborhood where I lived during my Denver years, a gentrifying-but-not-quite-there district where the majority of residents were Anglo professionals, but almost all the businesses catered to low income, first-generation Mexican immigrants.

Down the street from me was a pinata store. Never saw anyone in there, but apparently they did enough business to move a few doors down to a larger location. I also wondered if the market for pinatas among the neighborhood's disappearing Mexican population was enough to really justify such a business.

A couple of miles from my house, there was a store that specialized in used tires, Mexican-style western wear and Norteno records. The sign just read "Ropa Mexicana Y Used Tires Y Musica Ranchero." Strange.

Closer to the Denver city line, I wondered how the trashy quick lube and espresso bar joint did.

The strange thing about the neighborhood was that the amount of businesses catering to Hispanics grew at a steady clip, even as gentrification went on full bore. We're talking new tortillerias, doctors with signs reading "Clinica Mexicana," storefront Pentecostal churches with signage and services entirely in Spanish, and so on, while houses nearby were being plowed under for McMansions, and new neotraditional-style houses on the site of an old amusement park started at $350,000. No Starbucks, no "New American Bistros," no cigar bars. The business districts screamed barrio, while the side streets told another story.
 

H

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Dan said:
Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue in Kansas City, Kansas is in a working gas station. Great barbecue, too.
Some of the best BBQ / food comes from working gas stations. Ex: B’s in Oxford Miss. mmmmmmmmmmmmm!
 

Nemesis

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We have a decades old Donut shop that must have been purchased by new immigrants. It now continues selling donuts but added Thai food. Yum... donuts and pad tai. I shudder.
 

tsc

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I think it is in Oneida, ny... Pepe's Pizza and Bridal Shop.. the best part is the big gorilla on the roof.



in White Plains though... is Nanna's Coffee Shop... with a little white haired lady on the sign.. but the place is run by a buff, bald headed guy with tattoos....serving italian coffees....
 

Dan

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Reviving an old thread, after passing by this wonderfully strange business several times.

An honest-to-goodness communist bookstore.

When I drove by it yesterday, there was a huge sign in the window proclaiming:

ALL HAIL THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PEOPLE'S REVOLUTIONARY CONGRESS!

The place is always open ... but always empty. They don't have much of an online presence. I'm wondering ... even if it is non-profit, how can they pay the rent? I wonder what kind of business the brick-and-mortar lesbian bookstores back in Buffalo get, too.
 
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In Omaha, there used to be a bookie that used an 'arcade' as a front. The 'arcade' had 2 games in it, both of which were a variation of Pac-Man. The pool table didn't have all the necessary equipment.
 

Michele Zone

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I have Big Plans to bring a weird business to this area...any day now. :-D

Michele, who is feeling like she is in The Twilight Zone here lately rather than The Michele Zone. |-)
 
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"Are there still any real hat stores -- not baseball cap, but old fashioned hat stores -- in business anywhere outside of NYC?"

Dan, There's Hippodrome Hatters in Baltimore and Dietz Hats on South Street in Philly. I never go to Philly without stopping at the hat store and Geno's. :-D
 

Chet

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Repo Man said:
A place in Milwaukee called "Art Smart's Dart Mart and Juggling Emporium" You can pretty much tell what they sell by the name. They also have disc golf, hackey sacs, frisbees, and other low-key sporting goods.

Goldmann's - a 50's style department store. Picture the department store from "A Christmas Story." Complete with a lunch counter.

American Science & Surplus - all kinds of weird stuff from scientific equipment to toys. You can spend hours in here.
DAMN! You beat me to the top three. I'll add:

*FETISH - a trendy salon, one of the few iin the area that give you champagne while your being coiffed.

*THREE DOG BAKERY - aren't these a naitonal chain of doggie confectioners?

and now out of business... TIE ME UP TIE ME DOWN a store for..well, you can figure it out I'm sure. 8-!
 

Zoning Goddess

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I once handled a rezone for a combined taxidermy/butcher shop called "Kill It and Grill It" in a small FL town.
 

teshadoh

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There are - within a 4 block area where I live - two Mr. Wick stores. I don't know what they are but those two are among the few businesses besides used stove & tire stores along my gritty little urban street.
 

ludes98

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the north omaha star said:
"Are there still any real hat stores -- not baseball cap, but old fashioned hat stores -- in business anywhere outside of NYC?"
There are a few haberdasheries in Arizona, though most deal with felt cowboy hats, they still know the art of hats. The two I have seen were men in their 70's.

There is and Indian Cuisine place in bussiness near my home, but I swear I never see more than two cars in the lot and public transportation is nil around here, so the patrons walk, or there aren't any.
 

jsk1983

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Not so much a strange idea, as it it is a much needed service in NY, and other states with bottle deposit bills, but I was wondering how stores that only take back bottles make money. In Binghamton there is a can redemption store called the Can Man. I've seen other stores like this in the Finger Lakes, but can't think of any in Buffalo. In Buffalo you take your cans back to the grocery store, and I was under the effect that the stores had to pay for operating the redemption services and lost money on the whole idea.
 

giff57

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jsk1983 said:
I was wondering how stores that only take back bottles make money.

In Iowa there is a .05 deposit and the store gets .06 from where ever they go next. At .01 a can, you have to do volume!
 

Gedunker

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Not an odd business, per se, but a barber shop in my dowtown closed a couple years ago and it looks like they just "up and left". Looking inside, there is an open phone book on one of the barber chairs -- what number were they looking up just then? All the scissors, trimmers, capes, bottles of gels and conditioners, are lined up neatly on the counters under the mirrors. It kind of reminds me of the Chernobyl +18 years thread in "Cities and Places". I've never seen a "for sale or for rent" sign on the place. One day they are open for business and the next, closed for good. Strange.
 

GeogPlanner

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Downtown said:
We have Century Taco - a Mexican Takeout/Chinese Bakery.
I've been meaning to try that place ;-)

I think that the new Kia dealership in one of our malls is odd. But my vote goes to Fox's in Troy. It's an old Hallmark card store and the sign looks like its ancient. It's a wooden cut out of the Hallmark logo. All the signs in the window are hand written/scrawled and I never see anyone there. They sell newspapers, cards and bait I think.
 

boiker

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biscuit said:
Are those places uncommon here in Pennsylvania? (Unfortunately I haven't been offered a drink yet) It was pretty common down in Charleston to be offered either wine or beer at the more "posh" places while getting your hair cut. A couple of beers and a head massage...It doesn't get any better.
I remember my dad taking me to get my haircut when i was young. The barber had a pop machine in his store with an unlabeled button. It miraculously produced can's of budweiser. I got my hair cut a lot ;-)
 

BKM

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Computer Printer Cartridge shop in Berkeley. Isn't that a product carried by large office supply warehouse stores and internet sites? is there really a market for stores specializing in computer printer cartridges?

Of course, the rent is probably not that high, as Downtown Berkeley is hurting a bit in retail and office space vacancies.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

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Chet said:
........TIE ME UP TIE ME DOWN a store for..well, you can figure it out I'm sure. 8-!
You consider that weird these days? Should check out Halstead St in Chi between Irving Park and Addison :-D
 

The One

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Hmmm....

We seem to have a lot of Bondage shops in our neck of the woods......
 

steveanne

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I remember a store from when I was in my teens on Monroe Ave in Rochester New York called "Condom Knowledge". It was a store that only sold condoms and condom related merchandise. The store has since been closed, but I do remember them showcasing "Signs of the Zodiac" Gold Coin condoms in their display window.
 

tsc

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I use to live near here..... Pepi's Pizza and Bridal Botique... the best part is the huge gorilla... the universal symbol of a beautiful bride. ;-) Upstate NY can be fun....


1072pepi.jpg
 

michaelskis

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michaelskis said:
I have not been here all that long, but it is a first for me.

Oh that and the strip club that is a bring your own beer. I love it, the barber will serve, but not the strip club.

Wow... PA has those, but no such luck in MI.
 

tsc

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i just skimmed over this thread and missed Dan's..."reviving an old thread"...I thought I was having deja vu..... but I really had posted this anwer before... at least I have a picture now! .... maybe I am not awake yet. :-S
 

Mud Princess

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steveanne said:
I remember a store from when I was in my teens on Monroe Ave in Rochester New York called "Condom Knowledge". It was a store that only sold condoms and condom related merchandise. The store has since been closed, but I do remember them showcasing "Signs of the Zodiac" Gold Coin condoms in their display window.
Actually there's a similar store in the Old Port district of Portland, Maine. I remember passing the store window when I was there a few weeks ago.
 

Seabishop

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Mud Princess said:
Actually there's a similar store in the Old Port district of Portland, Maine. I remember passing the store window when I was there a few weeks ago.
Ah, yes, the Condom Shack. I saw that one a few weeks ago too. Its right near that alley with all the nightclubs so I'm sure its helped out many people over the years. :)

An old Photomat in a very catholic RI neighborhood was turned into the Condom Hut years ago. It was repeatedly vandalized and eventually closed leaving people to once again awkwardly go to CVS.
 

Bear Up North

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Toledo had a business that specialized in supplying nuts, bolts, screws, etc. to area businesses. Not sure if they are still in biz.....don't remember their actual company name, but I sure do remember their slogan, painted on company trucks and on their building:

"The House Of A Million Screws."

Bear Recalling
 

mgk920

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michaelskis said:
I have not been here all that long, but it is a first for me.

Oh that and the strip club that is a bring your own beer. I love it, the barber will serve, but not the strip club.
It is not all that unusual for really raunchy strip joints to open up without beer/liquor licenses, as the licenses often come with restrictions as to how far the dancers can go in their 'acts'. One did that a little bit north of Appleton a few years back.

As for businesses that make me say "Now isn't that a bit on the over-specialized side???" when I drive by, there is a place on West College Av here in Appleton called 'Bar Stools Unlimited' (or 'Direct', I forget which offhand). They actually have a set of way-oversized bar stools on display out front.

This all reminds me of the 'Scotch Boutique' skit from the old Saturday Night Live of the late 1970s/early 1980s.

Mike
 

AubieTurtle

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In Florence, Alabama there is a body shop next to a funeral home.

Another weird one is a candle store I went into last week to prepare for a romantic dinner. The store had candy, cards, bags, ribbons, just about everything that wasn't a candle. The few candles they actually had were elaborate figurines that obviously were meant to be used as much as those fancy bath soaps. Made me wonder why they call themselves a candle store.

Back in Montgomery, there was a junkyard called Pettiways that was also a bar and concert venue. They had some of the lowest budget commercials on the local UHF station that I've ever seen.

Though a run of the mill package store, the "Liquor Chest" in Agoura Hills, CA gets my vote for funniest name.
 
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