At Kaleidoscope Books & Collectibles, a dense stack of eclectic books greets customers. But after getting beyond the loads of bound volumes, more notable objects come into view: a machine that tells the horoscope of the person standing on it, Haight-Ashbury Street signs and a wide array of trinkets and figurines littered along the shelves.

Jeffrey Pickell, a self-proclaimed “jack of all trades,” has been running Kaleidoscope for 18 years, but has been amassing collectibles since childhood — out of what he calls “sheer necessity.”

“My mother was an interior designer. She used to drag me to antique stores and antique sales,” Pickell said. “In order to survive, I collected baseball cards.”

This need soon developed into a hobby, which now includes everything from modern first edition novels to vintage handbags.

On a regular day, Pickell drives to work on his motor scooter, picks out display sale items and browses through products to purchase on the Internet. Pickell said the items he’s interested in are heavily vested in nostalgia.

“I buy things that strike my fancy, that trigger some kind of memory,” Pickell said. “[People] tend to sanitize memories, so our pasts are always more gentle.”

Pickell, who was born in Brooklyn, has lived in Ann Arbor since 1981. His wife works for the University, and his son is a current student.

“My wife is the practical one,” Pickell said. “I’m the dreamer.”

The dreamer was quickly grounded into practicality last year, when he discovered that his projected 42-day moving schedule to relocate to Fourth Avenue from State Street would cost more than $80,000.

But with the help of more than 100 volunteers, the number of moving days dwindled to less than two, and the move was a success.

Kaleidoscope’s popularity over the years has garnered a diverse crowd of customers, including many brushes with famed politicians, actors and musicians.

“Hilary Swank came in the other day,” Pickell said. “She was telling me how to ride my bike — it needed WD-40 — she was right.”

Musician Patti Smith has been in Kaleidoscope a couple of times. Beatnik poet Allen Ginsberg rode in a taxi with Pickell and signed a picture that still hangs on the wall of the store. Actor John Hirsch came in, “dressed to the nines,” according to Pickell and bought $455 worth of children’s books.

But Pickell said his most memorable brush with fame was 10 years ago, when musician Ben Harper came and bought Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia. Harper then offered Pickell backstage passes to his concert at Hill Auditorium.

“I saw Hendrix play,” Pickell said. “[Harper] was better.”

Despite his abundance of artifacts, Pickell said he prizes sentimental pieces more than anything else in his store, including sports memorabilia and children’s books.

Pickell said his main purpose in running the store is to interact with his customers.

“I talk to people, I think that’s my main job,” Pickell said. “I’d probably save a lot of money or rent [if Kaleidoscope were] exclusively online.”

Pickell, who calls himself “a character” and “old curmudgeon,” will soon be turning 60 years old.

“As you get older, health deteriorates,” Pickell said. “But experience increases — other people’s experiences become my own.”

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