Relics & Rarities Is Truly “An Event”


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 IMG_3667auto 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.IMG_3655

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.IMG_3661

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.

19 thoughts on “Relics & Rarities Is Truly “An Event””

  1. I am so excited about this place on behalf of my toddler. We were going to stop by after lunch, but may have to wait and see whether the rain stops.

  2. In my rush to get this posted this morning, I forgot to mention that I finally had a chance to meet Dennis of Next Stop..Decatur blog fame.

    He also has some nice pics of the interior from last evening.

  3. We just got back from Relics and Rarities. What a great place! My 6 year old son loved to get into the cars and especially the truck! We also posed by the ‘Simpson Family’!!! It was great fun. Warren, the owner, took us around and gave us a great history lesson. I never knew that the traffic light was invented by a police officer in the 1920’s. We can’t wait to go back.

  4. I just had to reply to this post, as I took my 2 1/2 year old son by R&R today. I’m a car guy & my son is a huge fan of cars too (he walks around everywhere with 2-3 Hot Wheels cars at all times!). As soon as we walked in we spoke to Warren & discussed the place & all his vehicles. I own one muscle car & he was genuinely interested..meanwhile he has like what? 30+ cars?! It came time to pay for the ice cream we had ordered & I didn’t realize they were cash only right now. I said I’d go & get some money and he said to just pay him back later & we should go & enjoy our ice cream. Well, as soon as we finished eating I ran to the ATM & got some cash. He & the young lady he had working there told us about everything, showed my son how some of the rides & machines worked & were beyond friendly. We probably spent 45 minutes in there checking everything out.
    When I left I made a point to shake Warren’s hand & tell him how great he & his place was, to which his reply was “Hang on. Your son isn’t leaving empty handed. Then he went in a closet & gave my son a really nice, big 1973 Pontiac Trans Am model car. Still in the original box & packaging!!

    It’s unbelievable how nice this guy was to the dummy that forgot to bring cash & his son that was simply wide eyed at everything there.

    Two thumbs up to Officer Pickard & his very unique place that is truly a labor of love.

    I will be back. Often.

  5. I’m really excited about seeing this place but concerned about how they’re going to make enough money to stay open. Will ice creams and $2 museum passes (for those who don’t buy ice cream) really be enough? I hope his business model will support his labors and how cool this place sounds.

  6. We went yesterday and loved it. He is currently serving Blue Bell (my favorite), but is also talking to Greenwood about getting some of their ice cream. Hubs was SO excited to get to check out all the cars and talk to Officer Pickard. We went home and he promptly emailed all his car-enthusiast friends to tell them about it. We really hope this place does well – it is a really cool concept and it is obvious how much the owner loves his cars.

    I asked about hosting parties there, and he seemed open to it – of course, the parties would be in the “fun room” as to not get any gunk on the fancy cars.

      1. It does have Greenwood ice cream. Is that a favorite brand? Button Cake cupcakes are now there only on weekends. But there’s lots of other good cute desserts there during the week–Southern peach cobbler, key lime pie, vanilla cake with caramel frosting, all high quality. They’re trying to make room in their display for salads and fruit so folks will realize that they do great sandwiches and salads as well as desserts, pastries, coffee, smoothies, and ice cream,

  7. Finally made it over to R&R. It was definitely a big hit with my toddler, who refused the ice cream (!) in order to go back to the “fun room”. The owner has obviously poured a lot of love into the place, and I hope it works out. A couple of FYI’s: 1) They seem to be experimenting with the hours. The sign says they open at 11:00, we got there at 12:30 and he said they wouldn’t be opening until 1:00. He kindly let us in anyway since another family showed up at the same time. 2) Warren mentioned that the current prices are probably “introductory” prices, as he’s not sure he can make it charging what he’s charging. 3) I’m not sure what exactly the deal is, but there may be an informal “time limit” in the fun room. Since I needed to run errands, and my kid wasn’t finished exploring, I left my mom and kid there intending to pick them up in twenty minutes or so. They ended up walking part of the way home before I came back for them (no big deal, we live close) because my mom was under the impression they were being asked to leave. I don’t know if it was explicitly stated, or she was getting a “your time is up” vibe (they had been there for maybe an hour, including time spent eating ice cream).

      1. Not crowded at all. When I left them, it was just us and the one other family. I should note that it’s entirely possible my mom misunderstood the situation (she’s wonderful and all, but sometimes a little confused about things) .

    1. Hi Paula I’m sorry for the incident with your mom, but I have to offer that she clearly misunderstood. I’m sure those who have visited Relics can confirm that there is “no time limit.” As a matter of my personality, I make time for everyone that walks through our doors. I hope those who have visited relics can confirm that for you as well. BTW, your mom is great! She spent 20 minutes trying to convince me that I was a wealthy man and I spent an equal amount of time trying to convince her otherwise. I gave her and your son a tour of the main gallery and as guest often do, she had a lot of questions so we talked for another 15 minutes or so. I assumed the two were having a pleasant experience at Relics. I did have matters at Bank of America (credit card machine), that I could not miss in order to be ready for what might be a busy weekend for Relics. I offer the both of you my sincere apology. I hope that your family visit again soon….your scoops will be on the house!
      And while I’m here with you I’ll offer a few small comments on some other things you mentioned. The planning for Relics and Rarities has been very invovled over many years. The plan is realistically grounded. Though it is a labor of love, Relics and Rarities has a sound business plan that with the community support, it will sustain. I’ll get back to that point shortly. It was may strategy to roll out Relics and Rarities in it’s simple form in order to gage the community response to something so different and unique. It was my desire that every member of the Decatur community have an opportunity to gage for themselves if Relics was the type of business they desired in their community. I hate like others to pay an inflated price for something only to find out later it’s true worth. Yeah our prices our low and our menu is a little skinny. My question would be to any one who has visited Relics did you over pay for the entertainment value you received or underpaid? After our promotional period our prices will increase slightly our menu will grow a little fatter, though we will remain the cheapest, most unique entertainment in town. Back to my original point, I offer that the community is the driving force of a “mom and pop” operation such as Relics. and with your support hopefully we will be around when 2009 cars become relics. I Thank each of you for the warm reception you have provided Relics and I assure you we will make DECATUR PROUD TO HAVE US!!!

      1. Hi Warren –

        Thank you for the explanation. No apology or free scoops necessary! I figured it was probably just a misunderstanding. They really did enjoy the visit, and I’m sure we will be back.

        I too love the free toppings! Sprinkles make me happy! 🙂

  8. Scoped it out last night. It’s a really cool place in terms of atmosphere and history. I have to admit that the menu is pretty limited and I wonder if the business model (not that I really understand what that means but everyone uses it these days so I’m gonna too) is sustainable.

  9. Got to visit tonight, and it was fabulous. A great place for a playdate. I think the prices are great, not super inflated like so many other ice cream stores around. And I loved that we got free toppings! The owner was so friendly, and encouraged us to stay and play. Relics and Rarities is a great Decatur addition!

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