Despite a sign and party lights, the gaping doorway to a creaky staircase next to Tacos A Go Go is a hard sell for any first-time visitors to “The Place Upstairs.”
It’s hard to imagine how husband and wife owners Mike and Laura Levine say the shop, which is packed floor-to-ceiling with animal bones, surgical tools, trinkets, crystals, taxidermy, mannequins, dresses and even a full-sized skeleton, is “too innocent-looking in the daytime,” although that’s why they’re only open in the middle of the night.
“It takes work to get here,” Laura said, haggling with a customer over the price of a crystal desk ornament, one of the least-eerie items in the shop. But she likes the beautiful, and Mike likes the bizarre.
Her affection for the prettier things notwithstanding, Laura can’t help but boast about the priceless two-faced kitten nestled in a shelf on the store’s right wall or the Civil War–era surgical saw buried somewhere in the back of the shop. But that’s a place where even she refuses to go, due to “bad vibes” — probably from the orphanage cradle that’s full of burnt mannequins.
Mike handles the back half of the store, adding his own personal touch to every pile of surgical equipment and bones. His aesthetic: an episode of TLC’s “Hoarders” starring Ed and Lorraine Warren from “The Conjuring.”
Off-putting descriptions aside, “The Place Upstairs” and its owners are full of charm and personality. They have no qualms about striking up a conversation with strangers and rarely forget a friendly face in their shop. Laura even said she’ll give a discount to anyone that tells her the secret password: “Cougar Spiderlegs.” Just check online first to make sure they’re open.