COVENTRY — From medical equipment of a bygone age, to works of art that evoke forgotten memories, Candy’s Curiosities and Vintage is the place to go for a variety of oddities, antiques and utterly creepy finds.
“I just surround myself with stuff that I like,” Leslie Letourneau said, decorations from Halloweens of yesteryear on display behind her. “This is all very unusual stuff, and I just love being around it.”
A longtime collector of old, strange, and often somewhat morbid objects, Letourneau opened her shop on Washington Street earlier this month in hopes of sharing her passion with others.
From top to bottom, Candy’s Curiosities and Vintage is packed with all kinds of spooky relics and other rarities.
An antique doll rests atop an 1800s embalming table, the paint on her legs and face chipped, her eyes prepared to flutter open. Sad clown paintings and animal skulls adorn the walls.
A glass case displays vintage masks and other baubles at one end, real human bones and preserved brain slices at the other. Gator heads sit atop the case beside a century-old last rites candle holder and an illuminated X-ray image.
A stuffed boar head donning a retro birthday hat watches over customers as they peruse the shop’s countless treasures.
As an artist, Letourneau has always been fascinated by the human body. That interest deepened during the 15-plus years that she worked in group homes, caring for the medical needs of disabled adults.
“I got really interested in medicine and [dentistry] and all the stuff the human body needs,” said Letourneau, who is currently in the process of moving from Pawtucket to Coventry.
Among the old games and books, the crucifixes and rosary beads, are a number of items that hark back to much earlier days in modern medicine: a Victorian-era doctor bag; an antique wooden wheelchair.
Letourneau attends auctions every week in search of items to add to her collection, she said. She goes to estate sales, scours the internet daily, and has things sent to her by friends around the country who share her interest.
“Literally, I am getting new stuff every single day; unusual stuff that you’re not going to see anywhere else,” Letourneau said.
The weirder an item is, the better.
“If it’s unusual and in good condition, I want it,” she said.
Some of the items for sale at Candy's were actually made by Letourneau, herself — the doll-head planters that sit in the front window, for example, and shadow boxes holding taxidermy bats, butterflies and other small creatures.
“I say creating stuff keeps me out of trouble,” said Letourneau, who studied art in college.
Despite the macabre nature of many of the items being sold there, Letourneau said she's taken care to arrange the shop so that members of the community feel welcome to enter and explore.
“We have lots of funeral items, lots of dark items, but we’re happy,” she said, a human pelvis and ribs and vertebrae laid out in the case before her; sample burial vaults on the floor nearby.
“We want people to come enjoy our collection, ask questions, and be excited by it,” she continued. “I’m happy to be here.”
Candy’s Curiosities and Vintage is open at 470 Washington St., Coventry, Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.