Stepping across the threshold into Decatur’s newest sweet-spot, Relics & Rarities – which opens today at noon – is like entering a nostalgia playground.
Owner and proprietor, Warren Pickard, has single-handedly transformed this once fully operational auto repair shop on North McDonough Road into a land of cars and ice cream. And when I say “single-handedly” please don’t think I’m being overly general. Pickard, an Atlanta Police Officer with a life-long eclectic affinity for cars, took on the unenviable task of turning a once-functioning auto garage into an ice cream parlor and car museum. That means taking on challenges much less enjoyable than slapping Sponge-Bob decals on a sportscar or deciding which of his 35 classic autos to display in his showroom. We’re talking unenviable chores like sealing the concrete floors, building a retro ice cream parlor, and installing the handicap restroom (which pushed back his opening date). BTW, Pickard got a “100” on his health inspection.
The shop is broken up into three areas. You enter through the ice cream parlor that’s Coca-Cola stools and black-and-white checkerboard floor hearken back to the parlors of the 1950s (or to younger generations, a Johnny Rockets). The modestly priced 8-flavors of ice cream come in small and regular sizes. There’s also a $5 banana split, which was not available upon our visit last night, but which Pickard noted would include fresh bananas and strawberries…and who knows what else.
To the right of the ice cream parlor, kids and adults alike can enter a giant playroom of cars and other larger than life attractions. In here, all the cars and toys are fully interactive. Kids can play in a Spiderman truck or with an old pinball machine until their parents pull them away, kicking and screaming.
But it’s to the left side of the shop where Pickard keeps his most prized possessions. A 1965 Mercury Monterey Convertible, 1952 Dodge Powerwagon from the Korean War, a 1974 Bricklin that served as the precursor to the Dolorian, an early 1970s red Mustang convertible, and even a replica of a 1901Oldsmobile Curve Dash Runabout sit comfortably amongst other knick-knacks that Pickard has collected over the years.
And in case you’re wondering, all of these cars are still operational. That includes the 1901 Oldsmobile that looked more like a horse cart than a car. (When I showed astonishment that the Olds actually ran, Pickard fired it up and took my wife and I on a loop around N. McDonough, much to the distraction of a passing MARTA bus driver.)
I must apologize for the lengthy introduction, but Relics & Rarities really defies description. There are no comparables I know of in the entire Atlanta area. It’s the culmination of one man’s passion for cars (his advice for novice car collectors is “Always have your checkbook with you.”) and his insistence that ice cream “should be an event.”
Pickard has certainly accomplished that.