Sunday, December 03, 2006

Button Button, Who has the Exclusive Button?

After having read Harriet the Spy about forty billion times as a kid, showing me some pictures of a secret button store was a little bit like putting a bone in front of a dog.. a very hungry dog. A dog hungry for buttons. Particularly secret ones.

I asked Melissa if she knew about a secret button store. She didn't, but within a couple of hours she had a list, as well as some other fun places to check out. Later I remembered Sandy had told me about a great button store she'd found and I knew I was onto something. I cross-checked it against my list of potential stores and BINGO! There it was.

Friday Elizabeth and I went to the Exclusive Buttons in El Cerrito, CA. Its very unassuming from the front. But inside its extraordinary. Chock full of all kinds of buttons, except plastic! Vince and Mary Sortile have owned Exclusive Buttons for years. Around 25 years if I remember correctly. Only open Fridays and Saturdays due to Vince's frail health, they welcome their customers with enthusiasm. Mary showed us many lovely buttons and told us a lot of the history but I'm afraid I was overwhelmed by the site of all those buttons and really had a hard time paying attention. Vince came out after a while, he's still got some spunk in him. He told us how he sold wholesale to dime stores, and we reminisced a bit about dime stores in general.

Vince and Mary were very nice and let us take photos. Mary told us people come in and want to keep it a secret, which both Mary and Vince agreed doesn't pay the bills. There's plenty of buttons to go around. So I told them I'd tell the world (or the 20 or so people who read my blog) that their store is at 10252 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA. Call ahead to make sure they're open..510-524-5606. Its really worth the trip.

One of the many drawers of shirt buttons.

I love red.. I can't help it.

I wish I could buy this whole drawer.

Mary shows us one of her favorite glass buttons. She knew where they were all from, but of course, I don't remember. I'm thinking Czech Republic? Elizabeth, do you remember?

Mary and Vince Sortile. Lovely people.

It surely was our Lucky Day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aha! You went to my favorite button store without me. We'll have to go back. Great photos! The secret is out.

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Tami said...

Oooh thank you for finding out where this was. I too was wondering where the secret button store was located. Seems that they'd like to have the business that blogs can generate for them. :-)

9:28 AM  
Anonymous latebloomer said...

We better hurry up and go back before all the vintage buttons are gone! Especially those FANTASTIC buttons from, yes, the Czech Republic. Proudly being 1/8 Czech, I'm not likely to have forgotten!

9:51 AM  
Blogger Happy Zombie said...

What a nice write up Pam! Oh my gawd... I so want to go there. I love the red buttons too! Did you know I loved red too? Maybe our Super Hero outfits should be in red with lovely button from the Secret Button Shop!

Hmmm... on San Pablo. First stop Omega (another place where the secret got out) and then up the road (waaaay up the road) to Exclusive Buttons!

11:09 AM  
Blogger capello said...

omg. that's it. california has kicked the pants of kansas. i can't find a good button shop to save my life.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Patti said...

What a marvelous find! I'd be there in a minute if I lived anywhere near there. Just looking at your pictures makes me drool!

12:35 PM  
Blogger Green Kitchen said...

I love a sneaky little devil, and you, my dear, are one. I always wanted to be a detective, or a spy, too. Good job. Yippee!

3:21 PM  
Blogger kate said...

Ah hah. I live in Davis CA. So glad to know about this button shop :)

8:35 PM  
Anonymous lucille said...

What fun! There are always surprises to be found along San Pablo. Have you ever been to Tender Buttons in NYC? The place is a thriving store, but also like a museum - 300 year old buttons, ooak buttons, $500 buttons - everything for sale!

9:21 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Do you feel like you have found the pirate loot?? Look at all those wonderful buttons. How fun! (I loved Harriet the Spy, too!)

9:55 PM  
Anonymous carolyn said...

What an amazing shop.

1:05 AM  
Blogger cityfarmer said...

One of my many weaknesses...old buttons...I have a whole jar from my gramma

4:56 AM  
Blogger Bitterbetty said...

beautifully deducted dear.

6:42 AM  
Anonymous Teresa Sheeley said...

Button Heaven! They are all lovely.

8:47 AM  
Blogger Angelina said...

Why oh why didn't I find out about this place when I was still in CA? I just might have to make a special trip there the next time I'm in the area.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Lotta said...

I am throwing a huge tempter tantrum. I wanna go to the button shop! So cool, what a fun day!

5:29 PM  
Blogger Callie Ann said...

cool buttons yeah for buttons. Just wanted you to know I read your blog.....

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom lived a few blocks from the secret button store & she told me about it a couple of years ago. I'd driven by it a million times but never noticed it.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Claire said...

Lordy, that last pics with the buttons is lovely! I want them all!

12:40 PM  
Anonymous ambika said...

I'm assuming this is the same secret button shop I read about in an S.F. based blog. I resisted asking and now I'm so glad I stumbled across your mystery-solving mojo. I'm going to be in S.F. next week and there is No. Way. I won't be stopping by here.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Saints and Sinners said...

I think I love you.

I heard the SAME stories and no one would give up the selfish!!

so I went digging tonight and found it then was just googling it to see if it was THE store or not...and found your blog.
Thanks for posting it and not being selfish. NONE of us could afford to buy them out, and holding out the info is just not cool!!! Also I think its rude to the business owners, to limit their business by hoarding the info too!

Thanks again!

7:39 PM  

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