Wacko Soap Plant in Los Angeles (4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, 90027) is no ordinary store. Wacko opened in 1971 in Los Feliz under the name Soap plant by the Shire family as a handmade soap store with sons Billy and Peter helping out. Billy would also produce and sell outrageous leather outfits, which attracted clients like Elton John and the New York Dolls.
In the 80s Billy took over the store, moving it to the Melrose shopping district and adding books, ceramics and an array of eclectic items to the shops inventory. He also opened another store called Wacko next-door specializing in pop culture items and toys like Japanese robots and tin wind-ups. Two years later he opened upstairs, La Luz De Jesus Gallery which would end up being one of the most important ground breaking galleries in Los Angeles specializing in a genre of California art which would eventually become known as low-brow. Some of the artists who showed there before they became famous include Gary Baseman, Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), Elizabeth McGrath, Mark Mothersbaugh, Marion Peck and Mark Ryden.
Eventually Billy moved all his shops back to Los Feliz, where it all started and combined his stores into one big 6500 square feet store creating Wacko Soap Plant a megastore for the punk rock / pop culture fanatic. Shopping here won’t break your budget (after all, this isn’t Rodeo Drive); on my last visit I picked up a Sugar Skull emery board for $2.00 and a bunch of Funko Pop figurines for only $12.00 each.
The store continues to sell everything from Mexican folk art to jewelry, candy, perfume, art books, toys, home decor and t-shirts so there is every kind of novelty to gawk at and purchase here, making it the ideal place to shop for Christmas gifts.