Cleveland Curiosities, Lakewood
This northeast Ohio shop opened stocks an incredible selection of obscure antiques and oddities that range from cool to creepy.
A human skeleton stands in the corner below a display of vintage Ouija boards, while a stuffed badger greets guests near the shop’s entrance. Step through the door of Cleveland Curiosities and you’ll be surrounded by a world of collectibles that range from cool to creepy. Most of the finds here fall somewhere in between, depending on your point of view.
Clement Kunkle and his wife, Hallie Wallace, opened their Lakewood emporium in August 2018 after years of collecting, taxidermizing and selling an eclectic assortment of wares from their home. The stock at their Lakewood shop can range from animal skulls to antique medical equipment to even the occasional casket.
“We can see when people get kind of creeped out when they come in here,” Kunkle says, “but it gives us the opportunity to talk to them so they can see the historical and scientific aspect behind stuff.”
It’s the scientific aspect that captivates Kunkle the most. The son of a biologist, he was 13 when he learned how to pin bugs and clean small animal skulls as a way to better understand nature. It didn’t take long for him to become a full-blown collector of the peculiar as well as a self-taught taxidermist. What started as a hobby eventually became Cleveland Curiosities.
Kunkle is quick to add that everything in the shop is ethically sourced. When exotic animals die in rehabilitation centers and small zoos, he acquires them legally and taxidermizes them in an off-site workshop, while Wallace does all the bug- and butterfly-pinning. Human specimens — including a perfectly preserved hydrocephalic skull — are acquired from medical schools and physicians’ offices.
It’s no surprise that the shop provides a perfect spot to check out as Halloween nears, but you don’t have to be in the market for the offbeat to get a kick out of the place.
New items are added daily, which means there’s always something to discover. During one visit, it could be a purse made of armadillo skin, while next time it might be autopsy photos. What sells best?
“Whenever we get human specimens or oddball items, they go fast,” Kunkle says. “Like glass eyes — we can never keep those in stock.”
13375 Madison Ave., Lakewood 44107, 440/334-0455, clevelandcuriosities.com