Refurbishing for refurbished merchandise:

Published 5:59 pm Monday, November 25, 2002

By Staff
Old hardware store being transformed into vintage antique shop
James Crawford
News Editor
Downtown Atmore will soon have a new resident business when James Whitlock and Jeni Martin finish renovations to the old Atmore Hardware House and open the doors to a treasure chest of antiques.
The as-yet-unnamed antique store is tentatively set to open Dec. 1 between the Strand Theatre and Gerlach's Restaurant on South Main Street in Atmore.
Whitlock and Martin, former owners of the Trader's Connection in Birmingham, have decided to call Atmore home and look forward to setting up shop.
"Jeni was with hospice. That's how we became familiar with Atmore. We just liked it. We felt like it was a good fit for us," Whitlock said.
The partners are very pleased with their new location. "We should have some ready-made traffic being between Gerlach's and the Strand. Debbie Rowell worked long and hard for three months to find this building," Martin said.
Whitlock has been involved with the antique business for 30 years. Starting off as a hobby, he gradually started buying and selling for profit. He's looked at some pieces so much they seem to be a part of him.
"Some of it I think I've looked at it long enough that I've fell in love," Whitlock said.
Whitlock and Martin, who are handling a portion of the remodeling themselves, are semi-retired and decided to head south for the better climate. "We wanted to move down south where it's a little warmer," Whitlock said.
The store will feature antique furniture, glassware, pottery, toys, books, musical instruments and some old tools. The pair plan to travel at various times to find new pieces and hope to find local outlets or individuals interesting in parting with family trinkets.
"We plan to buy from individuals locally. If they have something they want to bring in or even if it's at an old barn, just give us directions to go look," Martin said.
Whitlock, no stranger to the road, has left in his Dodge one-ton pulling an empty 12-trailer, only to return with both vehicles full of things he found along the way.
"We've bought stuff everywhere from Texas to Rhode Island. Sometimes we rent a U-Haul to get it all back. It just depends on how far we go," Martin said.

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