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Shop Shots

February 5, 2014


Okay, so what if Stephen Penn’s Garden Shop lacks glamour and gloss?! Those things just lead to outlandish prices and snooty “help”, both of which are entirely absent from his enterprise. In fact, the help at his Garden Shop is actually helpful, whether it’s Steve himself, or his partner, Valorie, doing the assisting. They almost never fail to point me toward just-the-thing, whether I knew what it was I was looking for or not. And as far as prices are concerned, I’ve always been surprised by how reasonable they are. Actually, surprise is a big part of shopping at Penn’s place; something unexpected never fails to amaze me there. Located on Jurupa Avenue in an industrial section of Riverside, the shop’s a fenced-in triangle at the end of what used to be an army/surplus store. Another surprise: The shop also encompasses Penn’s salvage concern, which takes up almost every inch of a huge warehouse behind the former surplus store. There, within it’s high-ceilinged massiveness, one can find all manner of interesting item, whether it be industrial, historical, architectural or just plain bizarro. Needless to say, I love the place! It’s where I found the perfect planter for my new Mad palm (see previous post), and it’s where I got my fantastic twin concrete incinerators (click here), to name just a couple of my faves. This post is comprised of some snaps taken this past weekend …


Odd pairings? They’re standard here … they’re also great inspiration for combos that might not have occurred to one. I hate Christmas ornamentalia but used as shown here they’re unexpectedly appealing.

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Another odd couple: A tall ceramic electrical insulator stack has ended up with a rusted disk on top, making it look like a wallflower at the Neutron Dance.

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The Garden Shop is one of those places where it pays to look up, down, all around. Otherwise you’ll miss treasures like vintage manhole covers used as pavers … they’ve got some amazing examples. And that handsome old truck front and grill? Only $75!

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This shot is rather atmospheric but it’s the silhouette that’s important here. A twisted length of driftwood sits atop a tightly wound bunch of rusted fencing; it could easily be a focal point in the right garden. BTW:  Doesn’t that gigantic corkscrew in the background seem like an interesting idea for a trellis?

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Need a scaled-down choo-choo? On its own track? Your dreams of a back- or front-yard railway can finally be realized!

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I love this funky little vintage truck front. I’m not sure how I’d use it but I love the goggle-eyed face of it; maybe it could be a backyard reading room or iPad retreat space?

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I love chock-full spots like Penn’s shop because so many things together at one time always leads to crazy visual juxtapositions. It’s enough to make your head explode!

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An unassuming arrangement of glass electrical insulators nestled into the rusted springs of an old mattress is an inadvertent light sculpture.

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A time-ravaged but still stately eagle readies to take flight. It, like many items at the shop, is too heavy for either Paul or myself to deal with. Helpfully, Stephen and his crew are always happy to deliver. They’ve saved what’s left of our backs many times.

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Sunning himself in a quiet spot is Jäger, the shop’s mascot. He’s quite a sturdy fellow and friendly, if quiet, when the shop’s open. Should the gate be closed, however, it’s best to keep one’s appendages outside the fence; good boy, Jäger!

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Penn’s got quite an array of succulents and cactus on hand, many of them salvaged from area estate clearings. On more than one occasion he’s dropped by with a truckload of specimens for us to choose from; why deliver twice, right?

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This guy makes  Jäger seem chatty. Check out those spoked auto tires and rims in the background; I keep thinking there’s something I could do with those; maybe they’d make interesting totems, stacked?

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And speaking of totems, here’s another ceramic electrical insulator tower, this time suspended inside a metal tower. If there were two of these they’d be living with us already … what great sentries flanking a gate- or walkway.

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These few pics don’t come close to showing the full array of goods at The Garden Shop … and I didn’t even try to show the salvage goods inside the warehouse. You’ll just have to make your own trip and take it all in yourself.

 THE GARDEN SHOP is located at 6009 Jurupa Ave., Riverside CA, 92504.

Monday: Closed; Tuesday – Saturday: 10:30am to 6pm; Sunday: Noon to 4pm

Phone: 951.286.8280 or 909.705.9736

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2014 1:57 am

    So here’s where you found the Mad palm’s great container — so glad you’re giving up your sources, Reuben! And I do happen to be in the market for one more manhole cover to complete a pathway of three…

    • February 6, 2014 2:32 am

      Hey, Denise, Stephen’s got quite a few manhole covers, most of them huge! I’m sure you’d find one you like.

  2. Vickie Perez permalink
    February 7, 2014 7:57 am

    I managed to wander over there a few weeks back with my sis. We both found some items to bring home. Definately one of those places you love to keep checking on. Such an array of choices. Gives a person sll sort of ideas. Am looking forward to my next trip.

    • February 7, 2014 4:53 pm

      I rarely go to Stephen’s and come home empty-handed, Vickie, there’s just so much stuff to choose from!

  3. February 7, 2014 4:06 pm

    I really like going to Stephen’s shop… I don’t get there nearly as often as I would like, but then, I don’t get to too many places period right now… BIG sad face!

  4. Vickie Perez permalink
    February 10, 2014 5:26 am

    I think that you’d have to work really, really hard to walk out of there without anything in hand. So many things that I saw gave me ideas. So I could say that I’m staying away until
    I get some more of the things I’m trying to work on done. Or at least closer to done. Or maybe not. Time will tell.

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