Owner throws passion for rare, unusual items into oddities and antiquities store

LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas prides itself on offering almost anything, almost anytime.  But what if the craved item was off the beaten path; a little hard to find or even strange?

What you're looking for may be at the Las Vegas Oddities and Antiquities. It's downtown storefront that won't mislead you.
 
"Everyone wants something that no one else has, John," said Don Demarest, the owner of Las Vegas Oddities and Antiquities.

From a Mayan death mask made out of human bones to a real human skull, shoppers can find almost anything at Demarest's store.

"It's hard for me to part," said  Demarest. "My wife, she just despises it that I won't let stuff go."

For Demarest and his wife Nadine, the store is their life.

Reporter John Langeler: "Is there a point where you say to your husband, this is too much stuff?" 
Nadine Demarest: "I say it all the time."

After more than 40 years of wheeling and dealing; collecting and moving, the couple opened Las Vegas Oddities and Antiquities in October.

"We're moving back to Scottsdale and on the way, passing through Las Vegas, I said this place has some vibe to it," said Demarest.

It's an old Arts District building full of the rarest of the rare, but that's not it. Demarest says it's also haunted.

"These are wet specimens. Hearts, eyes, kidneys,"  Demarest said. "Did I show him to you?" 
Langeler: "The fetus?" 
Demarest: "Yeah, come here a minute."

"Even with him bringing home skeletons and bottles of brains...," Nadine said.
Langeler: "You're good for it?"
Nadine: "Yeah, I'm all right." 
Langeler: "Isn't it weird to have a human foot in your store?"  Demarest: "I've got one, and you don't.  It's history.  I love history."

Aside from the human grocery store, there's also a Soviet spacesuit in the Oddities and Antiquities store.

"This is Steflana Svelosky," Demarest said. "This is the first woman to walk in space."

There's also jewelry, including a Native American necklace.

"In this case, we have the index finger and two testicles," Demarest said.

Tucked in the back of the store is a treasure of biblical proportion.

"This is the actual last supper," said Demarest as he showed off a wax sculpture of Jesus and his disciples from Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum.

"I may complain, but deep down inside, I like it," Nadine said.

Demarest uses every nook and every cranny of the store. He even keeps valuable art in his office.

Langeler: "Kind of strange to see a Picasso sketch, next to some old filing cabinets and a plain white couch."
Demarest: "Well, you know, it's mine.  Over here, we have a Chagall.  That's an original."
Langeler: "Behind the mail crates." 

Nadine says she tries to slow her husband's collection habit.
She says she tells him, "This is too much stuff!  Why are you buying more?  Stop it!  Stop it!  And he doesn't," Nadine said.

However, Demarest's dream hasn't been easy.  It's been hard getting the store off the ground.

"We spent every dollar we had getting this setup," Demarest said.

However, there wasn't much getting the word out to promote the business. Despite the challenge, Demarest says he loves owning and selling odd and unique items.
   
Langeler: "What would you have the hardest time letting go of?"
Demarest: "That's a tough question.  My wife," he said as he laughed.

"Aww," said Nadine. "I don't know if he's trying to earn brownie points.
Langeler: "He probably is."
Nadine: "We're connected."

Demarest has another warehouse filled with even more items.  He says everything in his store...including the human body parts, were bought legally.

   


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