From time to time, I join the acquisitive culture and suggest destinations for buying quirky material culture. Today is another of those times.
Shown above is James Cross, standing in the back section of the Antique Center at 6519 Telegraph, just north of Alcatraz.
Cross and his mother Pamela say it opened in the 1950s. A sign on the premises says it has been operation since 1947. Whichever – it is a 50-years-plus business. This would be sufficient for inclusion in Quirky Berkeley and the old-business idea originally advanced by Quirky Berkeley acolyte “OH.”
James Cross and his mother Pamela are brilliant and eclectic and eccentric and the type of people who make Berkeley Berkeley. Their personalities would be sufficient for inclusion in Quirky Berkeley.
Out front and inside and out back – Quirky Things from here until next Tuesday. It is perfect for DIYers – an inexpensive and extensive collection of quirky material culture. This too would be sufficient for inclusion in Quirky Berkeley.
Dayenu – דַּיֵּנוּ. Three sufficient grounds for inclusion. A trifecta. It’s in. And we will politely ignore that fact that it is just outside of Berkeley, but within a stone’s throw. Because three criteria for inclusion are met, we will treat the absence of a Berkeley address as a minor technicality.
I’ve driven by many, many times. I wondered but never went in, until Geneva and Julie Addison encouraged me to go. And then Dave Seabury encouraged me to go. Those are golden recommendations. I went.
Bill Cross, father of James, came here from London in the early 1950s. He opened and ran the place from the mid 1950s until the late 1980s.
James, born in 1960, eased into the business. His father died in the mid 2000s, but Pam is still active in the business.
It appears that there is a shop cat that I didn’t meet. The name of the shop cat is Kitty Cat. Kitty Cat looks nice but bites – I am told.
One of the changes that Cross has noticed over the years is that the demand for used furniture now outstrips the demand for antiques. “People don’t want to pay for antiques,” Cross said. “And then there’s Ikea.” Disdain in his voice on that one. He loves antiques. He knows antiques. He collects antiques, acknowledging that there is only so much antique furniture that can fit in a collection, as beautiful as it may be.
Cross is a human vacuum cleaner. He liquidates estate sales. He haunts garage sales.
He fills up his truck and brings it back and sorts things out.
Yes, there is a little bit of a Sanford and Son vibe here. I didn’t know this until RIGHT NOW, but Sanford and Son was based on a BBC comedy Steptoe and Son.
It was about a father-and-son rag-bone business on Oil Drum Lane, Shepherd’s Bush, London.
There were other national versions – Albert and Herbert in Sweden and Stiefbeen en zoon in the Netherlands. Who knew?
Back on Telegraph – the furniture and antiques and knickknacks and paintings and signs start in front of the store.
I do love these bunnies. I don’t know where they are from. I know I was tempted to buy it. Kind of big though.
Inside – quirky material culture galore.
Uncanny. More though:
Creepy AF. And even more creepy –
There is a backbone of antique furniture:
But the mainstay of the shop is not antique furniture. It’s, well, stuff.
On the north side of the store you can walk around behind the store. In the open, inside sheds – more stuff.
Love those turkeys.
The Antique Center is all about holidays
Halloween is good.
Christmas is good. And there’s an annual party.
The photos from the party – quirky people in a quirky place. Quirky perfect!
The Antique Center (“Centre” only on Facebook) is a treasure in our midst. The Quirky Berkeley Ethical Guidelines explicitly discourage “commerce of any kind between Quirky Berkeley staff and subjects of Quirky Berkeley investigations.” I am aware of and in most instances agree with and conform to these guidelines.
Which I say only because with the Antique Center I can very well see myself showing up there with change-jar cash (it’s a cash only business) and loading up on quirky material culture for the great quirky room of fantasy/the future. I spent $2 while there. It’s a slippery slope.
James Cross here seconds that emotion – come on down Thursday through Saturday. Follow the impulse. Load up!
I am glad that the Addisons pointed me to the Antique Center. I am glad that it exists. I am glad that it is so near to Berkeley that it might as well be in Berkeley. I want to go back.
I asked my friend what he thought of the Cross Antique Center and this post. He is understandably sensitive about dolls and the doll photos above made him squirm. But otherwise he was very engaged. He clicked on most of the photos to see them full-screen. He looked around his Danish modern motif quarters and sighed. Not a good fit. I said never mind, he can come with me and get his quirk on picking stuff for me. This idea cheered him up.
He was even more excited about the prospect of watching the 1972 movie adaptation of Steptoe & Son. Movie night with my friend!
What about the post?