Holy Kitsch

Glendale's cool, intriguing, underrated downtown is, sadly, about to get a little less cool, intriguing and underrated. One of the antique mecca's wittiest shops, Saints & Sinners, is about to close its doors in favor of the more cost-efficient online market.

Asked to define S&S's stock-in-trade, co-proprietor Shad Kvetko's initial response is simple: "Weird shit." Fair enough, but it can be narrowed down further. Kvetko and partner Nancy Nenad's store deals, overall, in curios and exotica with a religious tinge. Santeria and voodoo oddities, Catholic folk art and other like items from the place where kitsch and reverence intersect are abundant, and not outrageously priced.

Need a glow-in-the-dark icon of St. Clare of Assisi, who was actually proclaimed the Patron Saint of Television by Pius XII in 1958? Or how about a lunch box emblazoned with Hindu goddesses, or rubber finger puppets in the shape of Kali and Shiva? Or toy mutant women? Or a rubber key chain in the shape of a chicken foot? Or a folk painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe? Or lurid Mexican posters for American horror films, like Conde Yorga -- Vampiro?

You'll find it all there, but it won't be there much longer. "This area just couldn't support it," shrugs Kvetko. The store will be closed, he says, by no later than May 15. There will be no close-out sale, either: "I just can't stand the idea of the vultures circling." Besides, all of the stock will become available again when Kvetko and Nenad set up shop online. As of now, the online address is not yet established, but interested customers can be informed of it later by getting on the mailing list. For details, call 623-435-5300, or, as Kvetko points out, 623-HELL-300. He insists that this was unintentional.

One feature of Saints & Sinners that will not make the transition to the cyber-world -- not with the same impact, anyway -- is the Museo Bizarro, located in the back of the store and accessible for a fee of $1, or for free with a purchase of $10 or more. This freak-out collection includes a large assortment of antique funeral and undertaker supplies, an authentic shrunken head and human-bone-handled machete, a preserved three-legged duck, a stuffed pair of conjoined (Siamese twin) lambs from New Lebanon, Ohio, and a stuffed two-headed calf from Hominy, Oklahoma. "God's little jokes, we like to call them," grins Kvetko.

Saints & Sinners is located, for the next few weeks, at 5305 West Glendale Avenue in Glendale.

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M.V. Moorhead
Contact: M.V. Moorhead