When Being Odd Is Cool

Are you fascinated by that which is unconventional? Do you look at the world a bit more whimsically than the average person? Do objects d’art and things that are odd, unusual and even macabre fascinate you?

If so, don’t feel eccentric because I’m guilty as charged too. Drawn like a moth to a flame, last week Kelly and I entered a shop called “Oddities & Antiques.”

Anticipating to bear witness to things peculiar, weird, offbeat and abnormal, our expectations were exceeded.

Hanging from ceilings and walls and stashed atop tables and inside display cases was an array of hundreds of curios so bizarre it tickled our senses. Here are just a few examples:

  • Human skulls, bones and a full skeleton

  • Encased tarantulas, scorpions and bats

  • Bizarre fish, animal mounts and jarred specimens

  • 19thcentury medicine kits and physician models

  • Unusual photos and postcards
  • A straight jacket for children

  • World War II mortar and shell casings
  • A stagecoach rifle, Conquistador blunderbuss & Kentucky Long Rifle

  • Antique tools

  • Collectible knives
  • Old fishing reels

  • Skeleton keys

  • Phones of yesteryear
  • One of the most popular items – a jar filled with pickled piglets

  • Rocks & gemstones
  • Prisoner cages & torture devices

…including an antique decapitation device

  • Exquisite formal attire from bygone eras

  • Magnificent metallic art and driftwood crafts

“Oddities & Antiques” is at once a museum, a slice of history and a wild ride through a world of the unconventional. Yet the store is not creepy or scary in the sense of worrying that your life may be in danger. Instead, the atmosphere is one of mystery and beguilement, as if in a Ripley’s Believe It or Not attraction except everything in this store is for sale.

The author examines a curio from New Orleans.

Which brings up what you’re probably already wondering: Who in the world would own a place like this? Actually, he’s quite friendly and down-to-earth. Frank Miranda has owned “Oddities & Antiques” in Clearwater for eight years. An artist – many of the store’s driftwood and ornate metallic works of art are his creations – he was born in Sicily, Italy, and Clearwater’s been his home for the past 45 years.

The store is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. On the other days, Miranda is a world-roaming artist. As such, he often encounters items in far-flung places that would be atypical in even the most off-beat antique shops.

Frank poses with a chastity belt.

“I always bring back extraordinary and remarkable things,” said Miranda. “Some of it’s not always so pretty, but it’s always controversial.”

A Black Plague physician’s mask

Besides his own travels, Miranda’s worldwide base of contacts alert him to unusual things they’ve found. And, when Miranda visits a new town, he checks out estate sales and auctions.

Lost your marbles? Photo courtesy of Oddities & Antiques

“At first I started collecting things for my own enjoyment, but after a while it dawned on me that an oddities store would be unique in Clearwater,” Miranda said. “Best of all, I enjoy showing people around the store – every piece has an interesting story.”

The courtyard contains its own collection of the odd and unusual.

Check out the Oddities & Antiques Facebook page for items for sale.

Dare to let your inner weirdness express itself. Visit “Oddities & Antiques,” 1764 Clearwater Largo Road, Clearwater, 727-793-5088.

Oddities & Antiques is open three days a week:

Thursday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Friday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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