Stylish stuff with a second life

A guide to the best used gear in Sacramento

What is it about 21st Street in Midtown? Within a few blocks of each other are some of the best used goods anywhere on the planet. Plus one spot off the grid worth a trip. Why spend that cash on the same old stuff when treasures abound if you take the time to hunt them down? And isn’t that part of the fun anyway?

Ed’s Threads Vintage and Timeless Clothing for Men 1125 21st Street
Sometimes not being able to get a job is the best thing that can happen to a guy. After moving here 25 years ago from San Francisco, Ed Castro couldn’t get hired on as either a bartender or a waiter, two jobs for which he had the skills. So he decided to open his own business and put his people skills to work for himself. This compact store carries goods from 1940s to the 1960s such as stylish men’s clothing, a selection of records and various hardback books. Tucked on the back shelves are copies of Cadence magazine, a publication devoted to the reviews of Jazz and Blues and Creative Improvised Music. Check out the rainbow selection of men’s sweaters.

Esoteric Records 3413 El Camino Avenue
Off the grid, but not out of the loop, Esoteric Records is a survivor. First started in 1972 by John Hogue, it was across from McKinley Park. It became Dancing Bear for a year, then back to Esoteric Records. Jim Larejeno has been with the store on El Camino Avenue since 1988.

“We have a loyal following and a longevity and staying power in this business,” Larejeno says. “We’ve gone through all the ups and downs and we’re still here.”

He estimates that the store’s stock is about 30 percent albums, all used, and 70 percent CDs. The CD stock is 60 percent used and 40 percent new, along with a good selection of used DVDs. Esoteric specializes in classic Rock ’n Roll and R&B. Larejeno reveals that he has around 30,000 45s in the back for those jukebox aficionados.

Olipom Vintage & Indie Designed Goods 1115 21st Street
Community-Cauldron, Dance Duds, Fair Trade, Hot Hot Hot, Art-show-stopper: That’s how owner Olivia Coelho describes her store. A self-proclaimed big thrifter, she has fun stocking her store with amazing finds and showcasing local art and indie designers. After a couple of successful Sellout Buyouts, a Utilitarian Art & Fashion show, Coelho decided to “get a storefront to peddle these awesome goods and sell vintage too.”

“My tag line for the store is ‘All the dope shit,’” she explained in an email. “I can’t really describe what’s in here, it’s just all the stuff I like.”

When asked who her target customer is, she responded, “Star spangled art patrons with about $20 in their pockets. River rats and Bicycle bandits who would be more ashamed of being spotted at the mall than at Goodwill.”

What’s makes the store special? “My store is embedded in the community,” Coelho explains. “We sell over 20 local designers’ goods. And I love that part of the business. You are close to the person who made it and you will probably see them around at some point.”

The BEAT New, Nearly New & Rare Music 1700 J Street
Their website says, “Because many of our rare and collectible items appeal to collectors nationwide, we auction products on Ebay every week. Since you will not find these items out on our floor, we encourage collectors to check our Ebay auctions regularly. Local collectors get the added benefit of being able to pick up their winning auctions at our store, saving the cost of shipping.” Yea, but you can go there. Why miss the incredible selection of music, and the cool feeling that can’t be transmitted through cyberspace?

Time Tested Books 1114 21st Street
Recently relocated next door from their original store which opened in 1981, Time Tested Books has “tens of thousands of volumes and hundreds of records.”

The brick walls, high ceilings and light all contribute to wanting to linger. Plenty of spots to plop down and explore the armful of books you are bound to have grabbed. A sample of sections include one of my favorites, Books About Books, Literary First Editions, Nautical, Mystery First Editions, Literary Criticism, Literature and Historiography. The store also holds author signings, lectures and musical events.

Zoots 1209 21st Street
Known as the spot for tux rentals, this family-owned and operated business is not just for the guys. Zoots has a huge selection of hats, shoes and accessories to go with that tux. Though it probably will be snatched up by now, there was a Evan Picone suite for $69.90 for any ladies who lunch. A luscious pink silk ball gown is what every girl really craves.

Maybe Oktoberfest is your holiday. Grab the lederhosen with the suspenders—a rare find anywhere. For $300 you can lay claim to probably the only pair in Sacramento. Check out the impressive selection of black leather jackets. Need that perfect pair of skull and crossbones suspenders? Stop by and grab a pair.