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Matoska Trading Company - The Former Orange Undertaker's Parlor

Matoska Trading Co.Certainly one of the most unusual and interesting businesses to open up recently in Old Towne Orange is the Matoska Trading Company. What makes it even more interesting for our purposes, it that in the early 1900’s the space housed what used to be Pixley’s Furniture as well as the old Orange Undertaker’s Parlor.We recently had a chance to stop in and meet with Brent the owner and ask him a few questions about his move into the former mortuary. Brent is no newbie to the Old Towne District. He opened his first location at 642 west Chapman in 2003. In 2005 they moved across the street into an old Victorian Mansion at 611 Chapman Avenue. “On Chapman there was no walk in business only business we brought in. It’s very different in Old Towne” says Brent.
You won’t find any Kachina dolls and dream catchers here. Matoska Trading Company is a classic Native American trading post selling goods and materials used for making arts and crafts, and dance cloths. They also stock a large variety of books, t-shirts, and an impressive variety of feathers, buckskin & leather, claws, teeth, furs and hides most from North American wildlife. The store also specializes in botanicals, smudge sticks and sage which are used by some to purify bad spirits.They also carry some ceremonial artifacts which include an impressive collection of authentic pipe bowls, “not called peace pipes” says Brent. The selection of pipe bowls are 100% hand crafted by a gentlemen from hot springs South Dakota whose family has been carving pipes for generations. These items are considered authentic Indian artifacts. The pipe stone comes out of one location; a query in Minnesota which is a national monument open only to Native Americans to query for stone.

What’s unusual for most people is commonplace for Brent. When asked what the most unusual item in the store was, he reached under the counter and picked up a large buffalo scrotum sack. “There is a use for it that slips my mind now however, most people who buy it do so because it’s more of a novelty item and conversation piece.” says Brent.

Brent has no Native American blood nor does he pretend to. His interest began as a young boy. He was part of the Y-Indian Guides then the Boy Scouts. Once he outgrew the Boy Scouts be joined a hobbyist group and went to Indian powwows. The business all started 20 years ago with a Tupperware bin from the trunk of his car and grew ever since.

When asked about any paranormal happenings, Brent had some interesting stories to share. “At our first location on west Chapman we would see little people from the corner of our eyes up in rafters” says Brent. There is a history in Plaines Indian culture that speaks about these small shadow people. When they moved into their first location, it felt as if these creatures were checking them out. Their new location on Glassell is a different story. Brent and his staff will hear sounds all the time. Most of it can be attributed to the natural ebb and flow of the building and its tenants, however, Brent describes on several occasions while working upstairs late night, the sound of something loud crashing to the floor only to rush downstairs and find nothing unusual or out of place. About 2:00 a.m. sounds of footsteps and other unexplained noises are heard on a regular basis. Brent’s wife who is a bit more sensitive about these types of things always gets an uneasy feeling towards the back of the store.

There is also the story of Dolly, a woman who allegedly died from injuries in an elevator fail back in the early 1940’s. When we were there, we could not find any definite traces of an elevator leading into the basement. There is an entryway into another part of the building that has long been sealed off with bricks as well as an addition to the back section of the building. We did find what looks like a large rectangle cut out in the original wood flooring that was later filled back in and re-floored. Elevator or the traces of a stairwell leading down to the basement? Perhaps.

One thing is for sure, if you have not had the chance to visit the Matoska Trading Company, be sure to stop by and say hi. You’ll be in for quite a unique experience and maybe a little more.