An Interview with Gladys Collins of The Dinosaur Gallery

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If you haven’t been to The Dinosaur Gallery in Del Mar, you’re in for a real treat. This shop owned by Gladys Collins sells and showcases minerals, dinosaurs, shark teeth, artwork, and more!

The Dinosaur Gallery isn’t just a store- it’s an an eye opener and an educational experience. Collins says it’s a little bit like a museum- but as an added bonus, you can buy these incredible pieces and take them home with you.

We had the pleasure of talking with Gladys Collins about her fascinating store.

La Jolla Blue Book: This store is so unique. What made you want to get involved with The Dinosaur Gallery?

Gladys Collins: I liked the product. It’s like a museum type product, so it’s very interesting. It was one of the fossils that blew me away

LJBB:  Wow, which fossil?

GC: It was the Orthocera. It had lived 500 million years ago, and I found that fascinating.

LJBB: How do you collect your products that are in the store?

GC: Well, I meet the people who mine them at Tucson. Tucson has the best presentation of people who mine fossil and minerals from all over the world, and they come from all over the word to buy there, so Tucson has quite a show- it’s usually every February. We’re fortunate in that we can drive there and bring the things back in our car, whereas other people who come from all over the world have to ship them.

LJBB: Has film and television industry affected your business? I’d imagine that it’s sparked some interest.

GC: These things aren’t widely known, but I think they’re more widely known now because of the film industry. Movies like “Jurassic Park” have definitely sparked an interest.

I know Christine Capanelli who did models for “Jurassic Park.” We sold her models when they were through with them. She lives here, so she does many of the models for me now, like the T-Rex head and the Pterosaur flying dinosaur. She’s done many other things- her talents are quite diverse.

We’re fortunate in that little children really love dinosaurs because they do have some TV programs with them in them. Then when they get older, they sometimes really get into the digging and finding of it all.

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LJBB: What’s your favorite item that you sell ?

GC: I like the crystals, but it’s hard to pinpoint what would be my favorite. I hand pick everything. I hand pick every fossil and every piece of mineral I have in the store. I can’t say that I love one over the other.

LJBB:  It’s like your children picking your favorite child.

GC: Yeah, exactly. I have some wonderful fossils though. I have a full crab from Italy that’s 50 million years old, and I have stingray from the green river formation that is absolutely beautiful. I also have a piece of stomata light that is some of the oldest fossil. The piece I have goes back 2.7 billion years

LJBB:  Well you’re so smart and knowledgeable, going into your store is probably more like a science class.

GC:  It’s a little bit like a museum, but everything is for sale. That’s the beauty. If you go to a museum, you can’t buy the big fossils and minerals.

LJBB: Tell us a little about the jewelry you sell.

GC: I have the semi-precious jewelry. They’re nice pieces that you don’t necessarily find in other stores. I have little bracelets of nearly every mineral you can think of. People buy them for the metaphysical aspect. That’s now a big part of my business, as people have become interested in metaphysics. They tell me I have the best collection. I have pieces that are nice polished pieces- not just little tiny ones. They’re nice sized ones that they can hold in their hands, or carry in their pockets, or use to meditate with.

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LJBB: What’s your most favorite part about being located in Del Mar?

GC: Well it’s a tourist area, so I get people from all over the world. They come back year after year just to just visit the store and pick up new things.

LJBB: What a great gift to bring back home – it sure beats a keychain.

GC: Yeah, they like it. Del Mar does have quite a few other stores, but it’s not rampant with shops. One another thing I keep that is quite sought after are our coral and shells. It wasn’t part of the original store, but I put those in and people love them because we’re right off the ocean.

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LJBB: For folks have never been to the Dinosaur Gallery before, what’s one thing you think they should know before they come in?

GC: Not enough people realize that our earth is full of all these beautiful crystals- they think our earth is just made up of dirt. Come and experience some of the beautiful and amazing crystals that are found in our earth. It was an eye opener for me seeing that first fossil. It made me want to find more of these things, and it would really great if people just appreciated what’s in the earth.


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