RICHMOND, Va. -- Pick your adjective. Bizarre. Strange. Outlandish. You’d be correct.
"You can’t get the full effect of the store unless you come in,” store owner Justin Torone said. "Richmond as a whole is so eclectic and unusual and different."
Rest in Pieces. Part oddity shop. Part Smithsonian.
"It's not just death. It's kind of like a lifestyle store. We have everything,” store owner Alaina Gearhart said. "That is what we wanted when you walk into the store. We wanted to fill this shop up from floor to ceiling so when you come in its overwhelming."
Alaina Gearhart and boyfriend Justin Torone opened in Oregon Hill two years ago.
"Alaina started collecting bones and skulls first. I found interest in buying them for her," Justin said.
It's a love connection made in heaven.
"It definitely takes a lot of explaining just what we do," Alaina said.
The couple has created a store that’s truly one of a kind in Richmond. A landmark catering to customers looking for something more off the wall.
"It can be a little scary when you turn the lights out at night," Alaina said.
From the morbid to the macabre.
"We do a lot of our own skull and bone cleaning," Justin said.
This may not be the place for the squeamish.
"We get plenty of that too. People who walk through the door look at our stuff and say, 'This is not for me' and walk out of the door. And that is cool,” Justin said.
Rest in Pieces will truly have you doing a double take.
"A lot of times with my family when we first opened it was like ‘Are you sure you still don’t want to do hair,’” Alaina said.
The location of Justin and Alaina’s pride and joy doesn’t hurt either. The shop sits a block away from Hollywood Cemetery.
"It all worked out in this spot. We love it," Justin said. “If you’re going to look at gravestones why not come in here. We have casket plaques, coffins and everything else you’d want to see here, you know?”
Last year Rest in Pieces gained unexpected national attention. When someone stole this. Their beloved mummified cat. The frozen feline still missing. But the hairless heist attracted a slew of customers.
Since then profits have been anything but grim.
"We’re getting new people in here constantly. Spreading the word. It's great,” Alaina said. “It is extremely rewarding. It's been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made."
The owners are learning to run their business on the job. An education that is eye-opening and challenging. The hard work paying off. Justin and Alaina are finding success turning a passion into their profession. Make no bones about it.
"I just feel comfortable when I come in here every day. This is what I feel like I was supposed to be doing with my life oddly enough," Justin said.
Rest in Pieces is located at the corner of Albemarle and South Laurel Streets in historic Oregon Hill. The store is open seven days a week.
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