Personal Space 

Blade runners

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Dorothy and Mel Bretag used to run a pawn shop out of the storefront of their west side home. But that became too dangerous and stressful.

Eleven years ago, they made a unique choice: Instead of waiting to be stuck up at knifepoint, they would go into the blade business.

"It's a big boy toy store," the female Bretag says about Prince of Blades, a tiny shop at 1641 W. Colorado Ave., that's filled with fantastic death-dealers.

Along with medieval maces, broadswords, samurai katana, pirate cutlasses and berserker battleaxes, the pair offers sharpening services for most household knives.

"I've loved swords and swashbuckling ever since I was a kid," she says when asked about the idea behind opening the store. "I used to whittle my own sword as a kid and go out and fight my neighbors."

Her husband Mel says that all kinds of people come in to buy weapons: doctors, lawyers, professors and bounty hunters. "There's a lot more interest [in blades] among women than we thought. They especially love daggers."

The sharpening service is a throwback to time when butcher shops and blade dealers could be found throughout the city. Elderly west side residents often bring in their pruning shears.

The only unwelcome customers are children under age 18 and disturbed people. "We do get crazies in here," he says, "total paranoids."

But compared to pawn brokering, the work is low-maintenance and a great way for the couple to enjoy their retirement years.

"It's unusual," says his wife, "and unusual does fit in on the west side."

-- Dan Wilcock

Photo by Rick Gorham


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