The gate to Ohmega Salvage at 2403 San Pablo is dominated by two huge Leslie Safarik joyous women ceramic statues which were formerly owned by Danielle Steel, and an early 1950s Jeep Willy’s wagon.
And a peace sign. Berkeley!
Ohmega Salvage came into being in ,1974 in the Flight Bar at the San Francisco International Airport. Victor “Vito” Lab and Bob Ford, signed partnership papers to buy and deconstruct a large building at the Oakland Naval Supply facility. In that first job they recycled thousands of board feet of lumber which they sold to DIYers and architects.
Ohmega initially bounced around in South San Francisco and San Francisco until moving to Berkeley in the summer of 1974. There was a big hippie vibe, and counterculture icons such as Wavy Gravy and John Fogerty were friends and customers. Vito Lab believed in Gaia theory, that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet. Lab’s 2013 obituary gives a sense of him.
In 1986, Steve Drobinsky purchased the business from Vito and continued the tradition of salvaging architectural materials.
He died in 2012, after which his wife Catherine took over the business. For a more complete history of Ohmega and some cool archival photos, see Ohmega’s website.
Ohmega sells bath and plumbing fixtures, decorative accessories, architectural elements, chalk paint, doors, fireplace mantels, furniture, hardware, industrial and vintage oddities, ironwork, gates, lighting, ornamental plaster, and windows and glass.
It is mostly the industrial and vintage oddities that rock quirky, but even the hardware can get its quirk on:
This doll takes us into the Uncanny Valley. Scary! Quirky!