Minneapolis vintage boutique offers everything — even taxidermy

“The store’s philosophy is that I can sell whatever I want that I think is cool.”

Bronze and ceramic sculptures on display at Strange Boutique in Minneapolis on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Sculptures are apart of the current art show

Easton Green

Bronze and ceramic sculptures on display at Strange Boutique in Minneapolis on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017. Sculptures are apart of the current art show “A Conspiracy Of Strange Girls”.

Maddy Folstein

Taxidermy and leather goods may not be on the top of everyone’s shopping list, but the Strange Boutique offers them anyway.

The Minneapolis vintage store is owned by Paul Durham, a longtime vintage buyer and seller.

“I’ve owned a few stores over the years. I had a store back in the late ‘90s that was called Swank that was in Minneapolis,” Durham said. “I’ve been dealing vintage and antiques and just curiosities since I was a teenager.”

Durham’s interest in vintage items, however, started at an even younger age.

“My aunt and grandparents took me to thrift stores here and in Chicago back in the late ‘60s, and I’ve loved it ever since,” Durham said. “My grandparents had a place on the Apostle Islands with lots of old houses where people had just left all their belongings and I could walk through and pick what I liked.”

The Strange Boutique was born out of Durham’s desire to sell what he’d otherwise be inclined to buy.

“The store’s philosophy is that I can sell whatever I want that I think is cool,” Durham said. “I have lots of stuff — oddities, vintage clothes, midcentury modern.”

Some of the inspiration for the Strange Boutique came from the stores Durham admires in other places.

“I like some of the cool curiosity stores in New York, L.A. and Chicago, where they have more oddities,” Durham said. “I wanted to do some of that because there really isn’t a place like that in Minneapolis.”

Since the shop’s opening last Halloween weekend, business has been growing steadily, primarily by word of mouth. Of course, they have to go in and see it to believe it.

“Most people are surprised, and some people are surprised in an unpleasant way … because I do have some taxidermy things,” Durham said. “But most people find it fascinating. Some are grossed out, but they still have a good time. “

Now through Feb. 28, The Strange Boutique is collaborating with local artist collective, “A Conspiracy of Strange Girls.”

The collaboration opened in January, with a display at the store featuring the work of twelve Strange Girls members.

“It’s just starting, so it’s kind of evolving as it goes,” Durham said. “I have a designated area [in the store] just for the Strange Girls products.”

A willingness to appreciate strangeness is key to shopping at an oddity store like Durham’s.

“Come in with an open mind, and expect to at least be entertained and fascinated,” Durham said.