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Restoring the good old days: Owner of new antique store loves the ’40s and ’50s

OREGON – There’s a problem with using acidic cardboard to mount a hand-painted picture, restorer Don Atkinson says – the acid wins the fight.

Atkinson owns Flamingo Palace, which he opened a few months ago at 109 S. Third St. He sells antiques, collectibles, and 500 or more framed pictures in his 4,500 square feet.

The building, once Bob’s Shoe Store, sat vacant for 7 years before Atkinson bought it 4 years ago. He installed a tin ceiling, re-wired the building and made other renovations.

His wife, Pam Hilgert, was going to be his partner in the business. She died in April 2011.

Atkinson, 60, is from Long Island, N.Y., but has lived in Oregon since 1995 and sold antiques from his home for 15 years. He talks rapidly in his East Coast accent as he displays vintage clothing, furniture, squiggle lamps, wall art and carnival chalk figurines.

He also has the store’s original cash drawer, which he bought by coincidence in 1999 and intends to use.

There’s one era that really piques his interest.

“The ‘40s and ‘50s do it for me,” Atkinson said “That’s what I grew up with.”

In fact, Atkinson named his shop Flamingo Palace because it is “synonymous with ‘50s stuff.” Many of his items are decorated with big pink birds.

Restoring pictures, some of which he does at home, is the biggest part of his business, though. He usually charges $35.

Pop in to the Palace

The Flamingo Palace, 109 S. Third St. in Oregon, offers antiques, collectibles, frames and picture restoration. It is open from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Call 815-751-6609 for more information.

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