When stepping into The Curio Emporium in South Pasadena, the color shift to sepia is so complete, only a peek out the window will lend assurance that you haven’t slipped into a gothic Jules Verne fantasy. Surrounded by a handpicked selection of unusual antiques, taxidermy displays, and creepy creations, your envelopment into the world of the Emporium is made complete by the tinkling music of long ago pouring out of some hidden modern device behind the counter.
A proper curio shoppe isn’t complete without eccentric, loving owners that can tell you the story of every curious object and the history of every unusual antique taking temporary residence on their shelves. David Constantine and Jenna Macabre move effortlessly around the store in full Victorian-era dress, taking time to answer any questions you may have about the two-headed duckling, or relay the history of a vintage prosthetic metal hand. Their eclectic collection spans many eras and represents genres both real and imagined, seamlessly combining authentic medical, militaria, and Victorian antiques with their captivating steampunk and gothic-inspired artwork and taxidermy.
As all of their items are antique or one-of-a-kind, each visit will reveal a new pocket watch, a set of old photos that weren’t there before, and that child-size gas mask from the Cold War you didn’t know you needed. The downside of this being that chances are the adorable stuffed bat hanging in the antique birdcage you promised to pick up next time could very well be gone.
Update: Unfortunately, the emporium has since closed its doors.