Oddiophiles to sell odd art, vintage audio starting next Thursday
NILES — At 207 N. Second St. in Niles, Bryan Williams stepped around a display case of shrunken heads, a gathering of voodoo dolls and a teddy bear outfitted with a demonic face. In the display window, two womanly mannequin figures lounged on chairs, one with its backbone exposed.
These are a few of the artworks at Williams’ store, Oddiophiles. The odd and vintage art and audio store is slated to officially open next Thursday at noon.
All items will be reasonably priced, and the objects in the store will, hopefully, never stay put for long, said Mark Alstott, whose audio and cameras will be sold at the store.
“It doesn’t do us any good to make a collection thing to hold onto,” he said.
Oddiophiles is next to Williams’ other business, The Brass Eye cocktail lounge. While he and Alstott set up Alstott’s collection of audio equipment and records under dim, warm lights for opening Tuesday night, thunderclaps from the movie “Young Frankenstein” could be heard from the Brass Eye’s open door.
“I like unique things in general,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t say that I’m into oddities, but I’m into uniqueness.”
Despite Oddiophiles’ flagship macabre art pieces, and its resident mannequins, Williams said the business is not meant to be disturbing, but cool.
Many of its pieces are pop culture references, such a paddle featuring “Moana” characters and a display of “The Goonies” plot points.
Other pieces may be strange, but they are also vintage, from a green ghost haunting the store’s radiator, to Alstott’s old country records.
Some of the displayed pieces are from Williams’ treks to auctions and other sales, where he pursued his interest in unique objects that stemmed from his fascination with tiki bars.
It was at one of these sales that he decided he would open an oddities store, and he had the property next to his bar for it.
“I couldn’t bear to just rent it out,” he said of Oddiophiles’ storefront. “I wanted to open another business. That’s really what I love doing. I like having a bar, and I like making cocktails, but I really like making new businesses.”
Williams is excited to open his fourth business, and he is happy to do so at a time when the downtown district is filling up with great business.
“This is fun,” he said. “I love getting it started, getting it going. That’s what I love doing. The fact that I can involve other local people, other local artists just adds to it.”
Virgil Taylor, of Niles, is one of those artists. He and his wife, Jamie, are the creators of many of Oddiophiles’ art objects, including voodoo dolls and Pennywise the Clown art.
Taylor said he likes to focus on lost sideshow and vaudeville-type artwork, which, along with movie objects and true crime pieces, are featured in his Museum of Movies, Monsters and the Macabre at Niles Scream Park.
But Taylor’s Oddiophiles artwork delves into a variety of themes in a variety of mediums.
“I try to experience as much creative-wise as possible,” he said. “I might not be the best sculptor in the world, but I want to try and learn it, and if I love what I’m doing with it, I’ll keep practicing at it.”
Right now, Taylor is improving his sewing skills, something he never would have done while in college. When he enrolled, he realized that many other students had experience working in a variety of mediums.
So, he worked hard, and he said not giving up is the best advice to give to up-and-coming artist.
“Don’t take no for an answer,” he said. “If somebody doesn’t like your stuff, prove them wrong.”
Meanwhile, Alstott is selling vintage audio objects, from turntables to speakers to CD players to vinyl. Some come from his personal collection, which he began as a teenager, building systems and training components with his friends.
He said that despite the popularity in streaming music and in Bluetooth equipment, older equipment still produces a better sound with a durable, fixable system.
“Anytime that I bring up this kind of thing just as a topic of conversation, I always see a light go in my friends’ eyes. ‘You got that vinyl?’ or, ‘You got that component? Those are things we’re looking for,”’ he said.
Alstott will also sell some of his cameras. Some still have film, others no longer.
Final hours of operation for Oddiophiles have not been finalized yet, but Williams expects closing times around 8 p.m. He hopes the later closing will allow bar and restaurant-hoppers to take time to check out his store downtown.
Once Oddiophiles has been open for a while, Williams plans to work with featured artists, such as Taylor, to host art sessions.