I’ve got a pretty strong affinity toward bizarre and off-beat attractions so when I learned that the L.A. County Coroner’s Office has it’s own gift shop…I simply had to go check it out. The aptly named “Skeletons in the Closet” is free to the public and features a morbid collection of death-related collectables and merchandise, and is definitely worth a visit .
I must first offer a word of warning: if you don’t have a morbid sense of humor, this is probably not a spot you want to add to your “must see” list. The shop itself is located inside the main building at the coroner’s office (you will go in via the guest entrance) which means that you may end up having a close encounter with death. When I visited, there was a grieving family in the waiting area, so be mindful that this could happen to you. In other words, contain your excitement and/or amusement about the gift shop until you actually enter Skeletons in the Closet. The store itself is located behind the first door on your right-hand side upon entering the ominous building (directly across from the receptionist’s desk).
Although Skeletons in the Closet is a relatively smallish gift shop, it is packed with all kinds of crazy products from pens to boxer shorts and everything in between. My personal favorite item was a barbecuer’s apron advertising “spare hands” “spare ribs” and “hearts” available from the coroner’s office. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was all so wrong and yet I couldn’t look away.
The store’s slogan “We’re dying for your business” (groan!) is plastered all over everything, as is their signature design of a chalk-outlined body. There’s even a “coffin” couch that you can pose on to create photo documentation of your experience. The shop clerk has no problem with visitors taking pictures of anything and everything, and she proudly boasted that Los Angeles, along with Las Vegas, are the only two coroner’s offices in the whole world that have gift shops.
A: Gee, I wonder why?
B: Los Angeles and Las Vegas would be the cities where a coroner’s gift shop would be located.
I suppose when your job involves being surrounded by death and sorrow all day long, it’s important to keep a good sense of humor about these things. Regardless, it’s such a weird concept and I have to wonder who could have possibly dreamed up the idea of setting up a gift shop. Even so, I would definitely recommend a quick visit to anyone who wants to have a truly unique experience.
Skeletons in the Closet is located at 1104 N Mission Road in Los Angeles 90033. Parking is free in the visitors section of the coroner’s office parking lot.