HUMBOLDT PARK — Space Oddities owner Sarah Luczko ran into trouble in college in Florida because she wanted to dedicate herself to music and writing and her teachers pressured her to choose one or the other.
After finishing school (finally settling on a poetry degree) she moved to Chicago, not for any particular reason except that it was home to the renowned Wax Trax! Records, and Luczko is a huge fan of Ministry, whose first single was released by the label.
In the five years she's been here, she's worked at bars, bike shops, a wine and cheese store, taught yoga, and done a smattering of performance art and spoken word pieces (though she hates the term "spoken word.")
These deep and varied interests, combined with a sharp intellectual curiosity, are manifest in Luczko's newest endeavor, Space Oddities — a small Humboldt Park shop stocked with books, art, curio and lots of, as Luczko calls them, "whatsits."
"I think the best thing you can do is dream big, and just do something silly," the 28-year-old Luczko said.
She took over the space, at 1007 N. California Ave., from a friend who was closing his bookstore there, The Yellow Book, and opened her own shop Nov. 1.
The former Yellow Book owner had been worried about how he was going to move the upright piano he'd been keeping in the store, which piqued Luczko's interest.
"Basically I told him, 'What if you didn't have to move the piano?'" she said.
So the piano is still there, in a back hallway, and Luczko also keeps another piano and organ in the store for another friend who doesn't have space for them. But virtually everything else in the store is for sale, including records and CDs from local artists, paintings by friends, and plenty of books.
"At this point what we traffic in is a lot of first edition J.G. Ballard and Phillip K. Dick," she said.
She hopes to eventually bring more oddities into Space Oddities — a preserved scorpion sold quickly — and will start off doing consignments for people, selling "taxidermied anything" and other curiosities.
Luczko plans to host events in the space, too, starting with a Naked Mermaid Figure Drawing Night this Friday at 7 p.m. She'll continue to teach what she calls "vampire yoga" — "slightly darker, more theatrical" Hatha yoga classes accompanied by industrial music.
She also hopes to host readings of "Finnigan's Wake," which she believes is best read aloud while drunk with an Irish brogue that "just kind of comes out."
And almost too appropriate for the owner of a store called Space Oddities, Luczko hails from a town in Palm Beach County, Florida called Jupiter, which she gleefully notes was once home for actor Burt Reynolds.
Asked whether she plans to carry any Burt Reynolds paraphernalia, she said, "As much as possible."