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They Have a Blast With the Past


Bob's Big Boy, Mr. Peanut and a fiberglass Alta Dena cow have all stood guard at one time or another outside the Melrose storefront of Off the Wall Antiques, no doubt drawing many a rubbernecker.

Since 1982, Dennis Boses, his wife, Lisa, and co-owner Dennis Clark have been serving up a mixed plate of 20th century ephemera at this emporium, which has been called "the best free 15 minutes in L.A."

"We have done very well by our storefront. Some people know us just by the fiberglass cow," Clark said. "We've had everything from a 9-foot chicken to Elvis' 1955 Corvette out in front of the store."

The two Dennises have a long history of hawking their wares on the street. When they opened their first store in Studio City in 1979, the space was so small all of the antiques were displayed outside. "We couldn't open if it rained," Boses remembers.

With 3,500 square feet, today's Off the Wall has room enough inside for dancing hula dolls, Frank Lloyd Wright furniture, Fletcher airplane desks and an Airstream trailer.

"I like to think we started the Airstream trailer trend," Clark said. "A few years ago we put a trailer in the store and filled it with 1950s pottery and other goodies. People just went for it." Since then, Off the Wall has put Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt and tons of other celebs in trailers.

But they are not the only Hollywood legends the shop deals with. Boses recalls rescuing the original chandeliers from the Wiltern Theatre. Now the store does a brisk business selling replicas of light fixtures from the Art Deco building.

But their best find came far away from L.A., in Duluth, Minn.: a Gilbert Rohde gentleman's dressing table.

The piece had a "not for sale" sign attached. Undeterred, Boses, (not one, he says, to flash cash) began counting out $100 bills. "I'd lusted after that piece for years. I would have paid almost anything for it."

But at $700, the shopkeeper begged him to stop. (Talk about a stroke of luck!)

The table was Boses', but not for long. Back in L.A., a customer offered $2,500 to buy it in the warehouse, before it even made it to the store.

"When I was single, it was all about the thrill of the chase," Boses explains. "Antiquing is the same thing."

Off the Wall, 7325 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 930-1185.

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