There is a shop in my neighborhood that sells buttons, just buttons. Well, not just buttons, it is art, history, and love too. The button man, Vincent Sortile, collected an astounding array of buttons in metal, plastic, shell, Bakelite, you name it. Most buttons are vintage, some are valuable collector's items. And each button has a story, a history, a provenance. To go to see the button man is an adventure. On one visit he told me that he started his business with 5 garages full of pre-WWII buttons and that he still had 2 garages worth.
Today, I am sorry to say that we have lost the button man. He was a sweet, charming man full of fascinating stories and he will be sorely missed. His wife of 65 years, Mary, plans to keep his shop open for as long as she can. If you live anywhere in the area (or are going to be in the area), do yourself a favor and stop by. You can find the perfect buttons with at least 6 fabulous back-up options, for any project you have. A shop like this is a dying breed. When Mary passes I imagine the stock will become fodder for an eBay shop. The charm of the little ramshackle building full to the rafters with buttons will be gone forever.
ETA: the address is
10252 San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito, California (510) 524-5606
the most recent posted hours are Friday & Saturday from 11-4