StrangeLands Oddities shop opened its doors at 531 N. Tower Ave., Centralia, on Jan. 7, but it’s not a new business to the Twin Cities.
StrangeLands is just one of several shops that vacated the Yard Birds shopping mall after the City of Chehalis posted notices that code violations in the building may pose a “significant risk to health, safety and life.”
The city has since claimed Yard Birds failed to meet a deadline for the sprinkler system and structural integrity of the building to comply with city code and to evict unauthorized RV tenants from the property. The city filed a lawsuit against Yard Birds last week.
“I just decided at that time, this is pretty much them violating my lease," said StrangeLands owner Paul Bromm. "We had notices up: 'Building is unsafe by order of the city, enter at your own risk.' And that was a business killer, anyway.”
Bromm and a few other business owners renting space in Yard Birds then decided to lease space elsewhere, and he has been so far enjoying his new space in downtown Centralia. The shop is aptly-named, with oddities such as handmade glassware in the front and a gallery of local artists’ paintings in the back. There are trinkets and jewelry, a variety of spiritual items, herbs and crystals. The shop’s “bread and butter,” Bromm said, is its black light posters.
“We’ve got a pretty good following since we’ve been open. I hear the same thing about it all the time, ‘It’s the vibe.’ Everybody loves the energy and I love the energy that’s why I’m here all the time,” Bromm said.
Bromm has been running his shop, which he considers his dream job, for two years after retiring from truck driving.
Before that, he was a Baptist preacher. He eventually broke away from conventional Christiaity and “found his own way,” he said. He still believes in God, but considers himself Pagan.
“My wife is a devout Catholic. And she calls me the wackadoodle who talks to God with a pocket full of rocks. She doesn’t vibe with my ideals at all,” Bromm said. “But, we’ve been together for a long time. Eleven years now. I respect her views as long as she can respect mine.”
Bromm admitted he made a lot more money as a truck driver than he has a full-time oddity shopkeeper, but that his business was not about making money. He enjoys spending hours just talking with and counseling customers, working on his glassware creations and exploring his spirituality.
“I recommend everybody do that,” he said. “This isn’t about money. I’m a lot more satisfied than I ever was.”