LEUCADIA — Looking for a three-volume set of “The Life of Thomas Jefferson” circa 1865? A Frida Kahlo postcard? Maybe the Santa Ana Register dated Dec. 8, 1941, trumpeting the invasion of Pearl Harbor?
Washington, D.C., may have the Smithsonian Store, but Leucadia has Ducky Waddle’s.
American contemporary artist Shepard Fairey, whose collections have been on exhibit at the Smithsonian, was a visitor to Ducky Waddle’s long before he began hosting one-man shows and book signings at the store. Local author Harry Katz whose book “Baseball Americana” is sold in the Smithsonian Store has had two book signings at Waddle’s shop.
For years Jerry Waddle has been the wizard behind Ducky Waddle’s Emporium. He estimates that between 5,000 and 6,000 books are stacked in his 900-square-foot space. They cater to subcultures devoted to art, graffiti, surfing, UFOlogy, science fiction, true crime, women’s studies, yoga, witchcraft and erotica to name a few. Waddle boasts one of the largest selections of books in Southern California on tattoos. This includes more obscure titles such as “Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopedia (Vol. 3).”
“When people see my website they travel from all over the world to come
here,” Waddle said. “Ducky Waddle’s, and Lou’s Records, bring people to Leucadia who stay and spend money at local restaurants and hotels. We are an unrecognized asset to this community.”
Waddle reports that one client came to his shop after visiting a big box bookstore looking for the works of Jack Kerouac, a leader of the Beat movement of the 1950s. “They only had two copies of ‘On the Road’ while I had 14 new and used fiction titles,” Waddle said. “Three were poetry titles. I also had three CDs that included Kerouac reading ‘On the Road’ and recitations of his poetry accompanied by freeform jazz.”
Waddle specializes in rare and scarce books which he defines as “those you can’t find when you want them.” Among those are classics such as the children’s book, “How to Talk on the Phone.”
“My clients are artists, musicians and literati including intellectuals, literary college students and serious collectors,” he said. “I’m interested in things people collect. I have a file of people who are collecting special things. If I call them, it’s probably because I have something that they should see.”
Waddle’s shop is brimming with treasures from Eisenhower campaign buttons to Peter Maxx glass, mermaids, vintage thimbles and Neolithic Chinese jade carvings. The work of his wife, celebrated glass artist Joyce Rooks, is also available for purchase.
An area he’s especially proud of is his collection of religious iconographs such as Buddha, Hindu deities and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Among his more popular items are his “Jesus Hates It When You Smoke” ashtray and “Looking Good for Jesus” lip balm and bubble bath.
Waddle’s background is as an art dealer who later became a book scout and dealer of ephemera — post cards, posters, greeting cards and sheet music. He says he has an appreciation for collectibles and does what he can to keep them within reach of those who respect them like him.
“I put a lot of energy into keeping my prices down,” he said. “My customers have become my friends. That’s what I get out of it.”
Waddle promotes the arts by using “The Duck” as a venue for art, music, poetry and literary events. This includes a Poetry Ruckus the second Wednesday of the month featuring a special guest.
Waddle also hosts the Second Sunday Flea Market at the Duck in his parking lot to revive the old Leucadia Flea Market of 1970s.
Ducky Waddle’s Emporium is located at 414 N. Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia just south of Lou’s Records. It is easily recognized by a metal sculpture of a duck on the roof. For more information, visit duckywaddles.com or call (760) 632-0488.