Oddities & Antiques in Clearwater
While making your way down Clearwater-Largo Road in central Pinellas County, FL, you might just miss it if you're not paying attention. Oddities & Antiques is self-described by its owner as “a unique collection of unusuals.” Filled to the brim with obscure art, strange vintage items, old medical equipment, various taxidermy, and plenty of creepy dolls, the shop is an oasis for all things a little (or, a lot) weird.
Owner and curator Frank Miranda was born in Sicily and raised in Ontario, eventually making his way to the Sunshine State in 1980. Frank’s affinity for collecting began with a specific niche item, “It started with old locks that were two or three thousand years old,” he says, “So, I started a collection of locks that were very unusual, and very intricate. It was just amazing the way they were put together that long ago. That was really the beginning.”
A hand-painted sign hung by the shop’s entrance tells you all you need to know: “If you are politically correct or easily offended, enter at your own risk!” Frank explains with a chuckle, “At least one or two couples a week will come in that front room, be totally disgusted, and turn around and leave. But that’s when I know I’m doing my work! I just recently started putting the warning signs up, simply because people were offended. I figured I’d give them a fair warning before they came in. Most people get more of a laugh out of the signs than anything else.”
Oddities & Antiques opened nearly four years ago, and is quickly becoming a hit in the area. Frank explains that he’s perfectly happy with the regular traffic the shop is getting, “I don’t do any advertising, so it’s just word of mouth and the internet. That seems to work out the best for me.” With a growing interest in the strange and unusual, plus the public’s desire for a different kind of antiques and collectibles shop, it makes sense that folks are seeking out Frank’s store. “Most of our customers seem to be from the New York area. But, it’s pretty diverse, I get people from all over. There’s not too many oddities stores around here, so there’s a lot of interest. They seem to find me! A lot of the clientele are doctors and nurses, because people tend to collect what they do for a living. Some of the old medical equipment I have is pretty interesting to doctors. People often ask me if I’m a retired dentist and doctor,” he laughs.
Walking through the shop, you really never know what you’ll stumble upon. With several rooms inside, two outdoor patio gardens, and two porch areas—all completely packed with unique items—you can visit the store multiple times and see five or ten things that you missed during your previous visit. Frank details his passion for collecting obscure things, “Whether it’s unique, or there were very few of them made, that’s the lure for me. Some of these pieces really belong in museums.” One such item that stands out is a piece that looks like some kind of torture device, with the tag helpfully describing it as a Tuna Decapitator. Frank’s eyes light up at the piece, and explains a bit more about it, “It’s very, very old… from right around the 16th century. That was on a Japanese fishing boat. The wood on it is almost petrified.” Not something you find in your grandmother’s antique mall, that’s for damn sure!
So where does Frank find these amazing, one-of-a-kind treasures? “It’s a constant search. All over—estate sales, flea markets,” he says. He also adds that nothing is off limits or too bizarre to display in his store, “I mean, if it’s out there and it’s got some kind of historical story behind it, it’s definitely worth collecting. The more unusual, the better.”
However, life isn’t all about the strange and unusual for Frank, “I have another store two doors down, Pirates of Largo. It’s more furniture and nautical stuff. Not as crazy as this place.” In addition to the two stores, Frank is currently in the works to open a café in the Oddities shop, as well as a few themed Airbnb vacation rentals behind the property.
If you’re in search of something off the beaten path to do during your next visit to the Tampa Bay area, stop on by Oddities & Antiques in Clearwater. Frank would love to show you around his unbelievable collection, answer any questions you might have, and help you find that special piece waiting to be added to your own collection. Be sure to bring your wallet, your friends, and—perhaps most importantly—an open mind.