Capturing a dream: Former Wilco transforms into South End Antiques

September 2014 Posted in Business
Tammy Davis and her daughter, Amanda, opened South End Antiques and Marketplace in Mount Angel.

Tammy Davis and her daughter, Amanda, opened South End Antiques and Marketplace in Mount Angel.

By Brenna Wiegand

Tammy Davis was ready for a career change.

“I’ve been a veterinary technician the last 12 years and became emotionally burned out,” she said. “I went into it because I love animals, but you don’t get to play with animals all day; you walk them to the grave.”

An avid antique collector since childhood, for 10 years Tammy kept driving by the old Wilco feed store in Mount Angel, envisioning an antique mall. The building – dating back at least to the 1920s – had been vacant 14 years. Then she heard talk of it being torn down.

Her husband, Brett, advised her to follow her passion. So she took the leap, leasing the building, fulfilling a dream and opening South End Antiques & Marketplace, 190 S. Main St. The mall is full with 40 vendors.

“I’m so proud of my mom. I can’t believe it’s actually coming together … it was meant to be,” daughter Amanda said, adding she and her mom often go antique hunting together.

“She always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be, do whatever I wanted to do, so finally it’s her turn. It means so much.”

Every day since they’ve been at the store, there have been all sorts of little blessings that keep telling Tammy she is doing the right thing.

“People showing up excited the building is being brought back to life and wanting to help. I’ve had volunteers wash windows, pull out bushes; pressure wash, paint… I mean, they have been so kind,” Tammy said.

“My husband cut down all the overgrown shrubbery and four school bus drivers took time to stop and thank us. I guess it was a blind spot for them at the tracks.”

Such encouragement spurred Tammy, Brett, Amanda and Trent on in the arduous task of cleaning and repairing. Somebody brought in an old feed sack; another, a store photo from 1929. It helped, too, that the 4,500 square foot space for antique vendors was full before they opened Aug. 29.

“The timbers in this building and the wood – it’s incredible when you think about who might have touched those boards,” Tammy said. “I like unearthing treasures. My husband is a hunter and fisherman and it’s like when he gets a big buck.”

Her biggest fan, Brett, works 10 hours at Pratum Co-op then helps her at the store. They’ve received generous advice from antique dealers across Oregon.

“We’ve been here 22 years. I raised my family here and I’m in love with the town,” Tammy said. “The chamber’s reached out. The city council’s reached out; I just feel so fortunate. Silverton’s successful because they have so many things going on. I want to work with the Red Bench and North Star and all of them; even have little fliers with a map… I don’t see it as competition at all; I think we should all work together.”

She has plans that include hosting a cruise-in, wine tastings, a chili cook-off… finding ways to invite guests to explore her store.

Her smooth vet tech hands are now calloused but she says anything worth having is worth working for.

“I think we’re going to be really successful. I really do,” Tammy said.

There are mysteries yet to be puzzled out, she said, including just when was the building built – and does anybody know the combination to the safe?

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