There's nothing scarier to a Halloween enthusiast than settling on plastic trinkets sold at the corner CVS.
Well, maybe except for not decorating at all. (Shudder!) Here's a sampling of local purveyors who specialize in kooky and dark ephemera to make your Halloween more hauntingly memorable.
Oddities and Antiques
1764 Clearwater-Largo Road, Clearwater facebook.com/odditiesandantiquesclw1
From the chalk outlines painted on parking spaces to its multiple rooms and patio areas displaying dark and historic artifacts, Oddities and Antiques is as much a mini theme park as a gallery and shop. A sheet-covered mannequin on an old stretcher greets customers. That is, before owner Frank Miranda welcomes you into his little house of dark wonders. Miranda stocks hundreds of items from darker periods in history — old guns, munitions, shackles, whips, medieval cages, Soviet-era gas masks and other disturbing items mixed in with displays of antique medical supplies, skeletons, animal skulls, crystals and other random tchotchkes. Urged to extend the store's hours, Miranda is opening up on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as Thursday through Saturday. (The shop's Facebook page still lists the old hours as of this writing.)
1903 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City facebook.com/DysfunctionalGrace
Co-founded by Liz Furlong and Daniel James, Dysfunctional Grace stocks merchandise that will send a creepy tingle up and down your spine. Browse James' taxidermy sculptures, which are often disturbingly comedic, and games and novelties that are often comically sacrilegious — plus old medical specimens and tools, among other weird accessories and antiques. Dysfunctional Grace stocks old, smiling-discouraged black-and-white photos. The result: that ominous, ghost-like stare — much creepier than any inebriated selfie on Instagram. Celebrate Dia de los Muertos at the shop at 6 p.m. Monday.
Roadside Attraction & Patina
726 Douglas Ave., Dunedin facebook.com/ShopRoadsideAttraction
Browse darkly charming goodies at two retro retail shops in one. Founded in Belleair Bluffs, Roadside Attraction relocated in August to Dunedin. It delights this season with macabre displays of voodoo knickknacks, skull and pumpkin accessories, candles, cocktail swag and Day of the Dead-themed items. The shop is a heady brew of Carol Cortright's lifetime obsessions: Old Florida, New Orleans voodoo, tiki swag, cocktail party accessories and mid-century fashion and decor. Occupying the 1910 house's cottage space, Patina takes customers back in time with vintage clothing, vinyl, decor, kitchen accessories and more.
Theatrical Fantasy Costumes
5257 Park Blvd. N, Pinellas Park facebook.com/FantasyCostumesInc
Owned by husband-and-wife team Ricky and Sarah Paul for three decades, Theatrical Fantasy Costumes is a seasonal, friendlier alternative to big box costume stores. The distinctive, purple-painted shop on Park Boulevard features several rooms to meander through and every accessory, costume and mask imaginable — from stockings and gloves to wigs and professional theater makeup. Community-focused throughout the year, the Pauls help out nearby nonprofits and businesses and host events at their shop to celebrate the Pinellas Park creative community. Last weekend, the couple presented the Thrill St. Pete flash mob to Michael Jackson's Thriller, and authors Mark Muncy and Elizabeth Abbott, who penned the paperback 31 Tales of Hellview Cemetery. First editions are available on the shop's counter for $10. Theatrical Fantasy Costumes will be open through Halloween and will reopen Jan. 2 with all things pirate-y for Gasparilla.
Local crafters and vendors
There are a scary number of crafters and artists specializing in macabre goodies, and they all displayed their wares at the Studio@620's annual Hauntizaar last Saturday. If you missed it, most of the participant vendors are still offering their items for sale online or by phone order. There are greeting cards, paintings, masks, accessories and more at horrifically affordable prices to help everyone Halloween-out this holiday.