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Salon move sparks antique shop owner

by: Shanda Tice Carrie Dorn shows off a vintage formal dress and purse while preparing her new antique store, The Victorian House, for opening day Nov. 1. The store is located at 343 Main Ave. in downtown Gresham.

Hair salons are frequently the best places in town to find out news and information.

Beaver Creek resident Carrie Dorn was sitting in her stylist's chair at the former Free Spirit Hair Salon on Main Avenue a few months ago, when she learned the shop was relocating.

While the salon's closure was a surprise to Dorn, an antique collector, the last thing on her mind was her next hair appointment.

'I wasn't worried about where I was going to get my hair done,' Dorn said, 'but I knew the building would be a perfect place for an antique store. I had been looking for a place to sell some of my antique pieces and I love anything Victorian. So when the house came on the market, I jumped on it.'

The Victorian House Antiques and Collectibles is a step into the past, when ornate furniture was handed down between generations and Sunday dinner was served on china with tiny delicate flowers. The shop is a tasteful, elegant reminder of a simpler time, when lace doilies, milk-glass vases and hand-embroidered linens graced tabletops and dressers.

Opening Tuesday, Nov. 1, The Victorian House is grandma's attic full of timeless treasures waiting to make new memories.

Dorn, 52, is a Damascus native, who credits her fondness for all things yesteryear to an older couple who lived next door during her youth. While most folks during the 1950s and 1960s threw out the old in favor of the new, Dorn was drawn by the couple's use of well-loved things that spoke of their lives and the people they were.

'Their home was always comforting and welcoming because of the way they made their home,' she said. 'They had a lot of what we now call antiques, but it was the way the woman put doilies and lace tablecloths together that was so magical to a little girl.'

Dorn went on to forge a career in the bridal industry, making custom wedding cakes, and later ran a day-care center in southeast Portland. But her spare time was spent on a continual treasure hunt for 'old stuff.' She scoured yard and estate sales and began hauling home distressed vintage furniture she then brought back to life.

Purists in the antique business, she acknowledges, abhor refinishing because it can lower the value of the piece and detract from its legitimate antique status. Dorn sees it another way.

'When I find something that needs to be loved again, that's when I get excited,' she said. 'I know I could pay $3,000 for something that doesn't need anything, but that doesn't do it for me. I have to fix it. Many dealers right now are calling the 1960s and 1970s antiques, but a real antique is 100 years old or older. If it's properly restored, it will still be around when we, too, are antiques.'

One of Dorn's prized possessions at The Victorian House is a circa-1800s sidebar (or sideboard) she picked up at a yard sale several years ago for $100. Blistered, peeling and missing much of its drawer hardware, the sidebar was destined for a burn pile.

'I spent about two weeks refinishing it and had it appraised,' Dorn said. 'I was told it should sell for around $2,200. I'll have a hard time parting with that piece.'

Like most antique hounds, Dorn considers herself an addict who doesn't know when to quit buying things that catch her eye.

But with a 30-year collection reaching epic proportions at home, she was at a loss over how to part with the treasures she adored seeing every day.

'My husband made a comment that if I didn't quit dragging stuff home, we'd have to move,' she said, laughing. 'I had things everywhere - the porch, the front yard. It was literally moving us out. So when this place came up, I was like, 'I can move my stuff in here and it would be like home.' '

The Victorian House, Dorn said, is a homey place where the past mingles with the present and still has stories to tell.

'I want to deal in true antiques,' she said. 'I plan to offer the majority of our business at a minimum era of 1950s and earlier. My hope is to preserve a little history and pass it on to the next generation. I want a customer's first experience at The Victorian House to be an open, welcoming feeling that envelopes them as if they've just stopped by a dear friend's home.'

Antique store

WHAT: The Victorian House Antiques and Collectibles with antique furniture and collectibles from the early 1900s to 1950s; consignors are welcome.

WHERE: 343 N. Main Ave., Gresham

CALL: 503-512-8639

Grand opening: 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1. Complimentary beverages and homemade treats are featured daily.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.