the resale of it all (Idyllwild)

If you haven’t already guessed, the Set of Drifters love junk - used junk that is, the castaways from society that somehow trickle down through the decades and end up in the weirdest of places.  During our 2013 three-day weekend in Idyllwild, CA, it soon became apparent that locals had more junk than they know what to do with.  In fact, we spotted countless thrift and consignment stores in town that piqued our interest, and though the majority of these ended up a wash, we did find a few that are worthy a browse or two...

The Funky Bazaar & Idyllbeast Research Center:   They say, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”  Well, after meeting Peter Buhl, owner of the Funky Bazaar and “Idyllbeast Research Center,” we bet he’d have a few more choice words to add to that idiom.  Buhl’s two stores really do stand out above the rest in Idyllwild for offering truly eclectic finds in a setting that does not take itself too seriously. 

Start your tour in the Funky Bazaar where, on ground level, a variety of vintage LPs, music memorabilia and a creepy doll collection await.  Buhl will most likely give you the lay of the land so be sure to follow him downstairs into his antique treasure trove, and upstairs, where a smattering of overpriced chandeliers lead to a gallery featuring avant garde local artists.  Can’t afford some of those expensive Ray Bradbury first pressings?  Why not soften the blow by checking out the Funky Bazaar’s free section.  Here, you can pick up any objects you might need for your home and simply slip them into your bag at no added cost... (Set of Drifters tip:  Unless you are looking for cheap plastic snowglobes and children’s underwear, we doubt you’ll find much.)

Next door, Buhl’s Idyllbeast Research Center celebrates the (conjecturable) life the mythical “Idyllbeast.”  Somewhat similar to “Sasquatch,” the Idyllbeast” is a large green shaggy dude who is reportedly seen traipsing through the San Bernardino National Forest!  Ask Buhl for more details, but in doing so, you had better plan on picking up some of his souvenir T-shirts, hats or little furry creatures!

Peter Buhl also mentioned to us that he runs a groovy art collective down by the river’s edge of Strawberry Creek (just out back of the property).  This picturesque setting really grabbed our attention earlier in the trip so we were happy to see that someone was putting it to good use.  Expect live music, poetry readings and the like, though be warned:  Peter explained he had to limit his parties to “invite only” as too many local bums were invading to gobble up free food and sodas.  We guess you can’t always have paradise on your doorstep without some consequences!

The Funky Bazaar & Idyllbeast Research Center - 54875 North Circle Drive, Idyllwild-Pine Cove CA  92549, (951) 468-4124

Fern Valley Emporium:  A more typical antique store in Idyllwild is the Fern Valley Emporium.  Jammed with oodles of objects from days gone by, this is your one-stop shop for quality ‘50s dishware, records, paper ephemera and even stellar conversation pieces that might end up the cornerstone of your groove den.  Vintage pinball machines, jukeboxes and large electronic objects?  Too cool. 

We found the pricing to be pretty good, especially considering the store’s location smack dab in the middle of a tourist destination!  Speaking of which... Fern Valley Emporium also sells daily “Adventure Pass” parking permits mandatory for Humber Park, Deer Springs Trail and other nearby hiking trailheads.  We noticed many couples returning from their trek only to find their parked cars adorned with hefty tickets courtesy the National Park Service.  Yikes.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you.  (For more on hiking in Idyllwild, see “Humber Park” in “sights.”

The Fern Valley Emporium is only open Thursday through Sunday from 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM (closed Monday - Wednesday).

Fern Valley Emporium - 54965 Pinecrest Avenue, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA  92549, (951) 659-1926,

Record Collector Idyllwild:  Seeing that your Set of Drifters are both DJs from many moons past, we’re always on the hunt to discover that next rare groove.  Still, with more and more record stores going out of business each year, that search has become increasingly difficult.  Enter Idyllwild’s Record Collector, a virtual vinyl paradise that we probably would have missed had we not spent an afternoon randomly driving through in May of 2013.

Located slightly off the beaten path (yet still in the center of town), the Record Collector is housed inside a quaint red and white cottage that certainly belies the treasure trove inside!  Stepping beyond the screen door to spot literally walls and walls of vinyl, our mouths literally dropped.  Soon enough, however, hostess-with-the-mostest Annette emerged to make us feel right at home.  She explained that her store was an offshoot of her brother’s larger Record Collector located on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.  It figures; this heap was just too good to be true! 

Friendly and funny with just the right amount of sass, Annette proceeded to show us how the store was organized into separate genres, then alphabetized.  Country, rock, vocals, jazz, soul, or showtunes... you name it, the Record Collector seemed to have it (though dance and disco was in short supply).  Set of Drifters tip:  Some LPs appeared to have been reinserted into different sections by previous customers.  Make sure to scan the entire store if you are looking for a specific rare title. 

As for our haul, we managed to find some very cool records, including the soundtrack to Roger Vadim’s The Game Is Over, Lalo Schifrin’s rendition of “Marquis de Sade” and a box-set vinyl for Hildegard Knef.  All of it appeared in great shape, though when asked if we could hear some samples, Annette gladly popped on a number of discs for us.  (She later mentioned that working at the store over the years had turned her on to so much new music.)

Upon the purchase of several higher priced LPs, we were given the privilege to explore the $1 record hut located out back.  Quite frankly, this is where we found the real gems!  (Johnny Spots - “Private Eyes” - hello!)  We’re guessing this is where records go first before they get priced and sorted for the store.  If you get “all-access” like we did, be prepared to swipe away the spider webs!

After offering us a shot of tequila, Annette revealed that her compound had once been the scene of some famous drug ring based in Idyllwild!  Who knew?  One thing is for sure; if our drug of choice is vinyl, than this place sure gave us a much-needed fix!  Set of Drifters tip:  You might need to pass by the Record Collector a few times before you can actually go inside.  Annette let us know that “Idyllwild Time” described the open-ended hours that many local proprietors use to keep their days as free as possible.  Ahhhh, such is life in a mountaintop paradise!

Record Collector Idyllwild - 54225 Pinecrest Avenue, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA  92549, (951) 659-2211

Wooley’s:  Whoops!  Wooley’s is not a resale or thrift shop, but this Idyllwild outpost still makes our shopping list for its oddball mix of new items that may be hard to find elsewhere.  Whether you are looking for that special cowhide throw, handknit mukluks or that special outdoorsy hat (they have everything from fisherman’s caps to Davy Crockett raccoon tails), Wooley’s had you covered from head to toe all year long!

But it’s not all about the forest ranger.  Stuffed cats in baskets and saucy greeting cards and candies prove that proprietors have their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks.  Set of Drifters tip:  Make sure you check out their unique jewelry and collection of Native American talismans.  At Wooley’s, the motto just may be “the weirder, the better.”

Wooley’s - 54245 North Circle Drive, Idyllwild-Pine Cove, CA  92549, (951) 659-0017,

Tuvalu Coastal Home Furnishings & Accessories (Laguna Beach)

Set of Drifter Brady’s parents love their Laguna Beach.  And while the artsy “Orange County” enclave is perhaps a bit too sleepy and refined for our liking, any trip to this sun-drenched spot can be trusted to quickly lower your blood pressure... that is once you find a parking spot!  Yikes.

Brady parents make their annual trek behind the “Orange Curtain” to visit 230 Forest Avenue, an address in the center of town that also doubles as a restaurant name.  The streetside cafe’s fisherman’s chowder is filled with copious cuts of halibut nestled amidst stewed veggies and saffron!  While desserts here are fab, fab, fab, don’t forget Laguna is a beach town - complete with numerous fudge/ taffy/ ice cream parlors that you’ve loved since childhood.

Need to walk off the calories?  If Laguna Beach excels at anything, it is window shopping.  Whether it’s high-end art or fashion, any stroll along Forest, Ocean or Mermaid is sure to get your credit card-a-sweating.  One of our favorite stores is Laurie Alter’s Tuvalu Coastal Home Furnishings.  And while we certainly don’t consider ourselves “shabby chic” beach gals - clearly the clientele this boutique caters to - we did find many individual pieces that could adapt into other eclectic decor environs.

When we first visited Tuvalu some years back it was located in a smaller space across the street.  Now easily twice the size, this is the perfect spot to stock up on impressive chandeliers made out of shells and/ or driftwood, vintage buoys shrouded in wabi sabi and a plethora of other housewares inspired by, and for, the seafront.  One-of-a-kind pieces will cost you, though the majority of the Tuvalu’s inventory is well within your reach.  If Mother’s Day is nearing, there’s no better place to ace that gift!  Chances are, you’ll have scored her the most unique porcelain sea urchin vase she’s ever seen!

Tuvalu Coastal Home Furnishings & Accessories - 295 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA  92651, (949) 497-3202,

230 Forest Avenue - 230 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach, CA  92651, (949) 494-2545,

vintage shopping along Main Street (Ventura)

Anyone who loves vintage items knows that the “Golden Age of Thrifting” is over.  Thanks to the Internet, and especially online auction sites, it is virtually impossible to find anything special at your second-hand or consignment shop, especially if you live in a metropolitan area!  Still, if you have that hankering to browse for rare collectibles and clothes from yesteryear, the town of Ventura offers sanctuary!

Our first stop on our way up the coast to the illustrious Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo (see “digs”) was the much ballyhooed shopping district of Ventura, a city that can could easily be renamed “Where Old Tattooed Rock-a-billies Go to Raise Families, or Die.”  But we digress... The quaint town actually lives up to its claim with well over a 20 cool thrift, record and book stores lining its charming Main Street!  (You just may have to walk around - or over - a few dazed crackheads to gain entrance to the shop you’re interested in!)

While Doug picked up some snazzy white patent leather loafers at the Treasure Chest, while Set of Drifter Brady was thrilled to find vintage Return of the Jedi promotional paraphernalia at the Coalition Thrift Store.  Looking for vinyl?  Grady’s Record Refuge is still open for business, and we assure you... they do not sell .mp3's!

Of course, it is not all vintage shopping on Main Street.  One spot that seemed to stand out from the rest was Wild Planet, a gift emporium that is park-punk, part-psychedelica, and 100% nonsense!  It’s the kind of place where you’ll find curious, and often, questionable retro-inspired gifts for the person who already has everything!

While we would not necessarily make a special trip to Ventura’s Main Street, the many thrifting opportunities here make it a perfect stopover if you already need to fuel up the car, or if you are feeling a bit peckish.  Set of Drifters tip:  We recommend the aptly-named Thai & Peru Restaurant for its unusual blend of flavorful dishes.

vintage shopping in Ventura - along both sides of Main Street near California Street),

Jacqueline Jarrot’s Treasure Chest - 328 East Main Street, Ventura, CA  93001, (805) 653-0555

Coalition Thrift Store - 270 East Main Street, Ventura, CA  93001, (805) 643-4411

Grady’s Record Refuge - 2546 East Main Street, Ventura, CA  93001, (805) 648-5565,

Wild Planet - 560 East Main Street, Ventura, CA  93001, (805) 643-5238,
Thai & Peru Restaurant - 583 East Main Street, Ventura, CA  93001, (805) 643-0583,