East Dallas vintage toy store takes shoppers on a trip down memory lane
A new store in East Dallas may have you yearning for your childhood. Opened in July, Piranha Vintage sells toys, collectibles, home decor, and oddities dating from the 1960s to the ’80s, in a location that has a throwback appeal of its own: Casa View Shopping Center.
The center itself dates back to the 1950s and currently houses an eclectic mix of shops ranging from an excellent fruteria to an elaborate dollar store. Piranha is an appropriate addition, filled with things you might have had as a kid, from vintage clothes and pencil sharpeners to horror film memorabilia and comic books.
If you go through life collecting stuff — all things Wonder Woman or Breaking Bad, perhaps — this is your spot. If you can't find what you're looking for, just tell the owners what you want, and they'll be happy to call you when it comes in.
The name comes from the 1978 Roger Corman-produced B movie Piranha. After the massive success of Jaws in 1975, several films with similar plots followed, and Piranha was a particularly unapologetic and campy example. A poster for the film hangs on the wall.
“When I was a kid, I went to a sleepover and we watched the movie,” co-owner G. Noel Gross says. “It scared me to death.” He runs the shop with his wife, Karri Stover Gross, and Piranha was also the first scary movie she ever watched.
As a vendor, Noel brings Piranha toys to comic book shows. He even created the logo art using the eyes and teeth of a piranha. But as a couple, their preferred leisure activity is scouring yard sales, flea markets, and estate sales.
Collectors often visit the store after spotting it on social media. Some are there to buy toys for their kids, while others show up to sell. Piranha Vintage is not particularly expensive for a vintage toy store; even five bucks will get you something here. A G.I. Joe Cobra Night Raven from 1986 will set you back $120, but that’s actually a pretty competitive price.
Although the shop focuses on conversation-worthy items, there are also plans to showcase handmade items and works from local artists. On Saturdays, the quirky little shop offers free matinees, projecting VHS movies on a screen.
Films are for kids one week and adults the next. So far they have shown E.T., Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Princess Bride, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Screening at 4 pm on Saturday, September 24, is Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.