Say what you will about Dania, but that city keeps it real. While the rest of the county has updated itself over the years, Broward’s first city remains retro. Just drive a mile down US-1, south of Griffin Road, and you’ll pass the neon sign for Tropical Acres (established in 1949), a couple of Bates Motel replicas, ice cream juggernaut Jaxons (est. 1956), an endless row of antique shops, and an establishment known as Alex’s Flamingo Groves & Gift Shop (established in 1963) that looks like it belongs in Key Largo. For years, I have driven past Alex’s tropical mural and window display of dead sea life, wondering what kind of tacky junk I could buy to fill up the remaining empty space in my cluttered apartment. Finally, last week I walked inside this treasure trove of useless items. Dear Santa, I know it’s kind of early, but here is my wish list of items that I want from Alex’s Gift Shop (in no particular order).

The Transvestite Fantasy Creature Collection

a transvestite Mermaid

Fairy Man in Dania gift shop

These contemporary statues are a little pricey ($129 for the fairy man), but I’ll settle for just one of them. I think it would fit nicely in my bathroom, across from the toilet, facing the person taking a dump.

Big Foot was real

Big Foot's head

Before and after photos (how do you type out the sound of a drummer playing the ‘joke’ beat… pata-puh?). In all seriousness, who comes to Florida and buys a replica of Big Foot’s head as a souvenir (besides someone like me).

NSFW Coffee Mugs

a boob cup

No Florida gift store would be complete without its array of everyday items turned sensual. I know it’s a bit cliche, but I was thinking of sending this to my mom for her birthday? What do you guys think? Why are you looking at me like I’m weird or something?

UPDATE 3-8-14: Since writing this blog post in 2010, I’ve now seen a bunch of places that sell this mug. This entry has lost its luster. 

These postcards never get old

cliche Florida postcards

In the same vein as erotic mugs, these typical, cheesy postcards are a must in any souvenir shop. Alex’s truly has one of the better collections of these classic photos. Nothing screams South Florida more than plus size women, homoerotic men, and the Hyatt in Ft Lauderdale.

Some shells playing cards

I call this….wait for it, wait for it… The World SEA-ries of Poker.

Next time you’re on your way to or from Dania Jai Alai or Liggett Pharmacy, drop by Alex’s Gift Shop. Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, it’ll make you chuckle. While you’re in the neighborhood, check out ABC Thrift Shop, one of Broward’s better second hand stores.

And 2 more photos.

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