Eclectic and ethical

Dorella Miller

Photo By dustin hyman

Have you ever visited a store that is more concerned with being ethical than profitable? The day I interviewed Dorella Miller, a licensed nurse and the owner of Della May’s Dreams, two of her regular customers had set up a small booth and were selling their own merchandise from her parking lot. “We help people in hard times,” Miller explained. Della May’s Dreams (AKA: the “Dream Shop” or the “Freak Boutique”) opened in 2004 near the El Rey Theatre but was relocated two years ago and now occupies 3028 Esplanade, Suite B. Merchandise includes but is not limited to the following: musical instruments, books, tarot cards, used swords, handmade art & jewelry, smoking devices, clothes, shoes, tapestries, handmade greeting cards, snorkeling/climbing equipment, trading cards, incense, records and healing crystals. This eclectic business is equal parts consignment store, healing center, head shop, antique store and costume shop.

Where does all this stuff come from?

This is everybody’s store. We have 5-year-olds who make greeting cards and grandmas knitting hats. This is a place where anybody can bring just about anything—new, used or hand-crafted. We discourage factory-made items, and you won’t find many things that are made in China here. Anything that’s weird, we’re in the market for.

How did you come up with the name?

Della May is my daughter. She was home schooled by me, and part of her curriculum was to talk about her dreams, which were always good-natured and positive.

What are some of the store’s specialty items?

We have a signed painting by Jerry Garcia, the last one he ever did. This guitar was hand painted by local artist Norm Dillinger. We get artwork made by the Zapatista army. We also have jewelry handmade by Ashlyn, a 14-year-old girl who has been selling with us since she was 10.

How do you manage this place?

With the help of my partner, Donatello [the man responsible for the Grateful Dead tribute section of the store]. If we are overstocked, or we know of someone in need, we give our clothes away … we’re not Walmart. We take pride in running an ethical business. I’m on my spiritual path, and this store is part of it. People often pay more than what is asked for items; they feel good about contributing to a place like this—miracles help us stay in business.