Jack Bennett was sitting alone one night, when the name of his shop, the Nevertold Casket Company, popped into his head.
“What you put in a casket is all of the things you never told anybody,” Bennett said.
Nevertold features an eclectic mix of curious and unusual items, from a table made from an elephant’s foot (the elephant has been dead for more than 100 years) to a figurehead from a sort-of-ship to wall-mounted art woven from human hair. If there’s a theme, it’s death.
“Weird is what I like to call it,” Tiffany Bennett said.
Jack and his partner — in business and in life and, we suppose, death — Tiffany opened the store two weeks ago on the ground floor of an apartment building at 1317 E. Republican St.
The pair has been together since growing up in the same small town in Wisconsin, and they’ve lived on the Capitol Hill for about 10 years.
All along, they’ve been collecting curious and sometimes macabre items.
“Jack is really dedicated to going to estate sales and being the first in line,” said Jenny Riffle, a friend who occasionally goes on trips with them hunting for interesting items.
Riffle compares the items to a museum.
“Their stuff is more highly curated,” she said. “The things are more valuable and more rare.”
Amzeah Smith, another friend and customer, agreed. “I’m like, ‘where did they even find all this stuff?’”
The answer is, almost everywhere.
Jack got one of his rarest pieces from the front yard of a person in Kent. Driving by, he noticed a skeleton in the man’s front yard. It turns out the skeleton isn’t real, making it all the more unusual. He said it was likely used in an Odd Fellows hall in the 1860s. At the time, such organizations would use fake skeletons for their club rituals until they were able to afford a real skeleton. Then the fake was supposed to be destroyed, Jack said.
And the skeleton isn’t even his favorite piece. That honor belongs to the skull of an 11-year-old girl from India which was used as a model for dental students. The jaw line is scraped away enough that it’s possible to see an adult tooth, just itching to push the baby tooth out.
He said he likes it, partly because it makes him think about the girl.
“They had no idea that, 100 years hence, they would be special to someone,” he said.
Tiffany’s favorite is a stuffed pomeranian, one of many taxidermic animals in the store. She said the Victorian-era taxidermy specimen was likely a house pet.
“People used to stuff their pets more often,” she said.
The pair said they opened their shop, a bastion of retail in a neighborhood that seems sometimes only to support places that serve food and drink, to give people other options.
Jack said he notices few people decorate their homes anymore; instead they go out and enjoy the decor at their favorite watering hole.
“It seems like everyone’s going out and buying their fun,” he said.
Tiffany agreed. She said one idea behind the store was to give people a chance to find unusual items they might want to have around the house.
“I like to have things that I’m inspired by,” she said.
Of course, they’re also there to do business. Both have day jobs, Jack as an apartment manager, and Tiffany at an office in a company that sells yachts.
Jack said that business has been better than they expected in their first weeks, and they hope it keeps up.
Tiffany said the ideal would be to operate the store full time.
“I really want to surround myself with it.”
The Nevertold Casket Company is located at 1317 E. Republican St. Hours are Thursday-Sunday noon to 8 PM. You can learn more at nevertoldcasket.com.
UPDATE: Another of Seattle’s most spectacularly odd retailers stopped by to visit the shop —