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Shabby chic to freeze-dried bats, new antiques mall has it all

Store stacked with odd objects opens in space formerly home to tasting room

Dennis ‘The Menace’ Olson, co-owner of Newberg’s newest antiques mall, has a simple theory about customers who come into his store: nobody enters the store knowing what they’re going to buy, until they happen upon it while browsing.

After all, who could predict their reaction to the necklaces made out of kidney stones, the stuffed tarantulas, or the antique shock treatment device and other quack medical gear? And those are just the items a few steps inside the door at Antique, Freak & Flea, which opened this month in downtown Newberg in the space formerly home to Purple Cow Vineyards.GARY ALLEN - Antique, Freak & Flea has a little bit of everything, from creepy dolls to shabby chic furniture. The downtown Newberg store follows the antiques mall model with multiple vendors, but carries more than just antiques.

The business is an antiques mall, meaning multiple vendors rent space in the store and sell different kinds of items. The eerie items up front, for example, are the specialty of one vendor, while another specializes in vintage signs or military equipment.

The name is a nod to that variety of merchandise. Olson has found that stores strictly selling antiques have a harder time making it with that narrow of a market. His store carries authentic antiques, but also has a collection of “shabby chic” styles, collectible sports car memorabilia and other more modern trends.

“Something doesn’t have to be 50 years old to be in my store, if it’s a quality item,” he said.

Given the front display, it’s not hard to see where the “freak” aspect of the name comes from. The “flea” component comes from a perception Olson has heard from customers: the idea that antiques stores are expensive, which some of them are, he acknowledged.

“We’ll have an aspect to this that’s going to be flea market price range,” Olson said, although he added that doesn’t mean it’s going to be the kind of merchandise one might find at a junk garage sale.

The business was started by Olson and his wife, Michelle Civalleri. Olson most recently managed the Trading Post in Sherwood, before the couple decided to branch out into Newberg with their own new store. He had been a vendor at the Sherwood antiques mall before that, and has also run his own stores over the years.

Olson charts his entrance into the business to his purchase of a $10 item at a garage sale years ago. After some research he later learned it was worth $400.

“That’s where the bug got bit,” he said.

Antique, Freak & Flea joins a similar business just a few doors away, T’s Antiques, which opened during the spring. It’s no coincidence the two antiques malls are nearby each other. Dennis helped T’s Antiques owner Theresa Pollock, who’s also a former Trading Post vendor, open her business.

Near the cash register Olson displays business cards for T’s, as well as Sharon Vo’s Wine Country Antiques Mall just a few blocks away.

“The goal is to put more of us here along this strip, and people will start coming downtown again,” he said, “so we help each other out.”

Still, each store has its own little niches, ensuring there’s a variety of antiques business to go around for everyone.

After all, Olson noted, “How many places in Newberg can you buy a freeze-dried bat?”

The store is located at 606 E. First St. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/antiquefreakandflea/.