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L.A. County

Buy the body-outline beach towel of your nightmares at the L.A. County coroner's gift shop

 (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)
(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

Why: If death is inevitable, capitalism is inexhaustible and Los Angeles is Los Angeles, it should be no surprise that the L.A. County coroner has a gift shop. And let's face it, you're curious.

What: The Skeletons in the Closet gift store opened in 1993 (at about the time homicides in the city were reaching historic highs). Nowadays the homicide rate is far lower, but the retail continues. Beach towels (with body outlines), barbecue aprons, mugs, office supplies, lanyards and more (see below) -- this shop has you covered, so to speak. The goods are gathered just off the lobby of the coroner's headquarters in Lincoln Heights, a 1909 red-brick building that once served as a hospital.

 (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)
(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

At least one other city has a coroner's gift shop. Still, this is a rare inventory in arguable taste. (For the weeks leading up to Halloween, body bags are offered.) For the record, the shop's management says the store exists "to promote how fragile life is and create awareness and responsibility toward one's actions." 

Speaking of which: On your way into and out of the shop, remember to be quiet and respectful: Many of the building's visitors are there in connection with the death of a family member.

Where: 1104 N. Mission Road, Los Angeles,  one block northwest of the L.A. County-USC Medical Center, 2 miles east of downtown L.A. Open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m.

How much: Baseball caps, $15. Mugs, $12.95-$15. Lunch coolers, $21. Beach towels, $35. Welcome mats, $30. License plate frames, $20. Key chains, $4-$5.  Lately, the shop has added anatomy models too -- "more educational stuff," said manager Edna Pereyda.

Info: L.A. County medical examiner-coroner

 (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)
(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

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