WALLY'S WORLD: Major facelift for antique mall

I was stumbling down the street last week when I saw an attractive, middle-aged woman walking toward me. She abruptly stopped in front of me, blocking my way.

“Excuse me,” she said. “Are you Wally from the newspaper?” (Being relatively famous in this tiny corner of the Plateau has a few perks, along with all the hassles.)

It turned out she was Marilyn Nelson, owner of the new antique mall being developed at Cole and Initial, where the old antique mall used to be – or where the J.C. Penney store used to be, if you’re old enough to remember that. She’s the owner of not only the business, but the whole damn building. She’s quite a remarkable lady.

We sat on a sidewalk bench in front of her construction project and talked about the weather and her life history. The weather was rather overcast and dreary; just a typical fall afternoon that wasn’t of much interest.

Not so for her life story. Marilyn was born and raised in Iowa and graduated from Waldorf College. She spent 32 years as a flight attendant, back in the days when the occupation was still glamorous and romantic. Her husband was a pilot, now retired, whom she had known for many years prior to their marriage 12 years ago. The two have lived in Enumclaw since 1992.

The inside of her building has been completely gutted, except for the balconies in the front and back, both of which have been stripped down to the floor boards. Much of the ground floor will be covered with sandstone. There’ll also be a sandstone fireplace to highlight the store on chilly winter and fall afternoons.

The outside of the building will also be extensively remodeled, subject to approval by the city powers that be. The red brick wall facing Initial Avenue will be resurfaced with sandstone.

As you’ve probably noticed, the work involves a run on sandstone. The reason became clear when Marilyn revealed that, shortly after their marriage, she and her husband purchased the old Wilkeson quarry, which is another newspaper column in itself. As I’ve noted, she’s quite a remarkable lady.

Current plans call for approximately 35 cubicles that individual antique dealers will rent. They’ll buy and sell antiques and collectibles and will accept some items on consignment. (Marilyn explained that, technically, antiques are at least 100 years old, while “treasures” newer than that are called collectibles.)

Cole Street Antiques and Collectibles will also have a kitchen and tea room on the ground floor. In addition to a wide selection of teas, it’ll serve cupcakes and scones and an allegedly delicious and exquisite chocolate fudge, concocted from a secret recipe. The kitchen also plans to serve specialty sandwiches and will be open for lunch.

Though Marilyn will operate her own collectible trade in one of the spaces, the entire business, both the dealers and the kitchen, will be managed by her close friend, Mary Beth Vadney. A grand opening is tentatively scheduled for shortly after the first of the year.

The store will surely be a beautiful and welcomed addition to the downtown area. It will also offer me an opportunity to unload some childhood mementos, like an Enumclaw milk can and a Captain Midnight secret squadron decoder badge.

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