The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office has a gift shop. It’s called Skeletons in the Closet — and they sell everything from bags to sweatshirts to beach towels with chalk lining of a dead body.
Here’s the conversation that transpired when I bought a $15 hat:
Me: Are you guys busy in here?
Sales Clerk: What do you mean, like dead bodies?
A lot of people who visit the coroner’s office are picking up a loved one’s belongings or an autopsy report — and they wait in the lobby. You also access the gift shop from the lobby.
You can’t really see inside. The only way you’d know of its existence is the small “Gift Shop” designation on the door.
But still–I couldn’t help but feel a little weird about going to the CORONER’S OFFICE to do a little shopping.
According to the L.A. Daily News, it actually opened as a joke in 1993.
It has since remained in operation with the purpose of promoting “how fragile life is” and to create “awareness and responsibility toward one’s actions,” according to the website.
In other words, it’s good PR.
While the store draws tourists from the U.S. and across the world and also sells items online, it doesn’t appear to be a huge money-maker for Los Angeles County.
It was operating at an annual loss of $55,000 in 2010, according to the L.A. Daily News.
In July 2015, there were some ideas being thrown around about possibly turning the shop into “more of a museum” or a “Forensic Education Center.” Perhaps even closing the store altogether or moving it to a more accessible location.
But, as of this writing, it’s still there.
When I went last month and bought the hat, I felt super weird. A next-of-kin could be grieving in the lobby, and suddenly a customer walks out laughing about their new chalk-outlined body beach towel and mouse pad?!
It begs the question: Is the existence and location of this shop tasteless?
Or perhaps, it’s a great place to buy a gift for your friend with a morbid sense of humor.
You decide 😉
If you’d like to visit Skeletons in the Closet, the shop hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
It’s located at 1104 N. Mission Road in Los Angeles.