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Nostalgic to naughty, merchandise from former notorious Duluth head shop to be auctioned

Signs, bongs, music, adult toys and other items from Last Place on Earth shop will be placed on the auction block.

Last Place On Earth head shop in downtown Duluth
Duluth's Last Place On Earth head shop in April 2013, shortly before it was forced to close. The storefront sign is among the items that will be offered up for auction Jan. 8, 2022. Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune
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Duluth's Last Place on Earth was shut down ignominiously in July 2013, and its owner, Jim Carlson, is still serving time for the mind-altering products he was convicted of selling out of the shop, including "bath salts" and synthetic marijuana.

While federal agents seized all those drugs, as well as many of Carlson's other assets , some less illicit merchandise, as well as signs, remained. When the dust settled and agents had finished their work, Carlson's son, Joseph Gellerman, gathered that stuff and placed it in a storage unit.

But after a while, he stopped paying the storage facility, and it gave Gellerman formal notice that he had to settle up or forfeit the contents of his storage unit. The memorabilia and merchandise will be going up for auction at Sellers Auction, 102 Belknap St., Superior.

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Joe Gellerman, working at Last Place on Earth in September 2011, helps a long line of customers. Bob King / File / Duluth News Tribune

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Christina Greene, who manages the auction house, said the sale, slated to take place at 5 p.m. Jan. 8, will be an adults-only event, due to the nature of some of the items to be put up for bid. She said it just wouldn't be appropriate to have children in the mix when bongs, other smoking paraphernalia and sex toys are being offered for sale.

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Greene said the storage unit was a large one and its contents filled a 24-foot trailer from top to bottom.
"We have hundreds of albums, everything from '70s rock to disco and whatever else they carried. I know for certain there are a lot of adult items and also all the smoking items, as well as stuff like Bob Marley T-shirts, throwing stars, black lights and posters. But most of it's packed in boxes right now in a 40-foot container behind our building. So, we won't know exactly what we're selling until next Thursday, when we unpack everything and set it out," she said.

Sellers Auction has two intervening auctions that will precede the Last Place on Earth event.

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Last Place on Earth owner Jim Carlson, of Duluth, reacts after the Duluth Police Department exercised search warrants at his downtown Duluth business in September 2011. Synthetic drugs, cash and 31 guns were seized from the business. Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

"We're going to make it a party. I'm getting a keg and some champagne. We're calling it date night. We'll be selling all the PG items first. Then we'll take a little 15-minute intermission. So, if anybody doesn't feel comfortable sticking around for the other stuff, they can go," Greene said.

"What else are you going to do on a freezing Saturday night in January?"

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Some people still wax nostalgic about Last Place on Earth — located at 120 E. Superior St., now home to Blacklist Brewing Co. — in the days before it began trafficking heavily in synthetic drugs. Therefore, Greene said she's not surprised there has been such interest in the approaching auction.

"We're not at all trying to make light of the situation. I wasn't living here at the time, but I understand that there were people that died due to synthetic drugs. It was a tragic turn, and that's why he (Carlson) is where he is right now. We obviously didn't have anything to do with that, and we're just trying to help out the owner of a storage facility that got stuck with all this stuff," Greene said.

In keeping with the business owner's wishes, Greene declined to disclose the operator's name.

Peter Passi covers city government for the Duluth News Tribune. He joined the paper in April 2000, initially as a business reporter but has worked a number of beats through the years.
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