Nestled in a corner of Santa Fe Arts District, Room of Lost Things manages to stand out among the local shops. Featuring a number of oddities that would capture anyone’s eye — like old dolls and books to fetal creatures in jars — this shop will likely pique your curiosity.
Ryan Moulton and her wife, Lisa Moulton, first opened Room of Lost Things around four years ago. They started much smaller — as they would rent out a small space just for First Friday Art Walks. But even during that time — the small oddities shop was immensely popular with lines out the door and onto the sidewalk. Eventually, Room of Lost Things upgraded to a permanent space tucked away on Santa Fe.
Ryan studied film in college. During her time as a student — she shadowed the art department during the fourth season of Breaking Bad. She was taught that nearly all of the props on the show were handmade instead of store-bought. Ryan then began making walking sticks for the show — and soon began receiving requests to make more. Ryan started adding claws and teeth to her creations from roadkill she found along roadways. When Ryan and Lisa met — they realized they both shared a passion for the unusual, and their love for oddities took off.
“We’ve learned everything the hard way which is usually the best teacher,” Lisa shared while laughing. “We have learned so much about the business side of things.”
The Moultons have found that other small businesses have been more than willing to help them out along the way. Ninni & Foffa’s — a vintage shop right next door — is the sister shop of Room of Lost Things. The owners there taught the Moultons everything business related — something they knew little about when first opening Room of Lost Things.
While Room of Lost Things is a small space — and often busy with foot traffic — you will be sure to spend a countless amount of time gazing around at all of the oddities. Right next to the front door you will find a couple of horse fetuses — preserved and waiting for a new home. Jewelry featuring everything from puffer fish to moth wings are sure to catch your interest. Both vintage jars and vintage toys are scattered around the shop — along with various other pieces of jewelry. Yet what stands out the most is the various creatures that have been preserved and put for sale.
From a guinea pig with a bow tie named Theodore — to preserved bats, cats and coyotes, there seems to be an endless amount of creatures on display.
“We try and take a silly, fun-loving approach to our dead things,” Ryan shared. “We want to celebrate their uniqueness and their lives.”
The Moultons have even received a following from those following vegan lifestyles. All of their creatures have been sourced cruelty-free.
“We get all of our creatures through natural death,” Ryan said. “If people know they get to keep a creature that wasn’t purposely killed for display reasons, they can celebrate its life ethically.”
While one may think that the Moultons are obsessed with death — they insist it is actually quite the opposite. The Moultons have dedicated their shop to celebrating life and the lives of the creatures they carry.
If you are not quite drawn to buying a preserved creature, however, there are various other oddities in the shop sure to catch your fancy. Room of Lost Things carries a number of stones — such as emerald, citrine, amethyst, jade, lapis and so much more. For those who are lovers of antique dolls — the shop has many dolls and doll parts. The windows feature plants that come with their own unique pots. In one corner — you will even find a collection of vintage books — which are almost begging to be picked up and read.
Room of Lost Things has gathered quite the client base. They shared that people from many different walks of life are lovers of all things odd.
“People you may not expect shop here,” Ryan shared. “From little kids who want to spend their allowances, to retired scientists who are just intrigued by this stuff.”
While the path to where they are now was never simple, the Moultons have learned plenty about business, taxidermy and art during their time.
“I want people to get inspired by the fact that we didn’t go to college for this,” Ryan said. “We learned this from trial and error and YouTube. If you’re clever, you can succeed in other trades away from the traditional approach.”
Visitors to Room of Lost Things are sure to be fascinated by the various oddities and vintage collectibles. Go in with an open mind and learn about the stories of each object. While the physical space is small — you are sure to get lost among the endless amount of objects. One of the oddities may just strike your eye.
Room of Lost Things is located at 987 Santa Fe Drive, Denver. It is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shop can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.
All photos by Barbara Urzua