Cadillac Jack’s the Rolls Royce of antiques shops
BILL REED THE GAZETTE
“Do you have any player piano rolls?” a customer asks.
“Yep,” says Cal Johnson from his easy chair behind the counter. “In the back room.”
If it’s not at Cadillac Jack’s Trading Post in Calhan, it probably doesn’t exist.
Rolling pins, tins, bottles, police badges, Coca-Cola advertising, toy tractors, Depression glass, neon signs and slot machines line the walls. Lifesized statues of Marilyn Monroe, Donald Duck, Ronald Mc- Donald and Betty Boop are waiting to greet you.
“Home of 100,000 Antiques, Collectibles and Stuff” boasts the sign out front, and it’s not far from the truth. This place manages to cram in nearly everything under the sun.
Other than the El Paso County Fair, Calhan is a quiet place. According to the 2000 census, 896 people live here.
Cadillac Jack’s, at 1001 Fifth St., is one of the most active spots in the tiny town, although a bar called Curly’s Place and the Bulldog Drive-In give it a run for the money.
“It’s an awesome place, it really is,” says JoAnn Parris, owner of Curly’s Place since her husband, Curly, died 13 years ago. “You really need to spend a day in there to see everything.”
Parris says the antique store also serves as a landmark in town. “We use it as a focal point,” she says. ” ‘Oh, that’s right across the street from Cadillac Jack’s.’ ”
Still, Cadillac Jack’s is open only six months of the year. (The store is closed October through March.) And even when it’s open, the hours are limited to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays.
Not enough people are cutting through the prairie on U.S. Highway 24 during the winter to sustain the business, owners say.
Besides, the owners of Cadillac Jack’s aren’t interested in working too hard. Founded by antique toy hunter Jack Johnson and co- owned by a group of eight pals, Cadillac Jack’s has been here more than 15 years, in a building lined with boards from an old corral.
Whoever is minding the store sits behind the counter in the overstuffed easy chair and rings up sales on a 1907 National Brass cash register.
Defying modern retail strategy, the stuff is piled floor- toceiling in a mesmerizing jumble. Every time you walk down an aisle, you notice something different.
Cadillac Jack’s is a browser’s dream, a place where you can get lost for a long time.
It is not, however, a bargain hunter’s dream. This shop is geared toward collectors searching for just the right thing. That Betty Boop statue (made as a greeter at a Betty Boop convention) is $450. Some toy tractors will run you $175, the same as a Stroh’s neon sign.
But if you really need to find 1920s post office boxes or a 1972 button supporting “McGovern for President,” it might be worth creeping around the crowded corners of Cadillac Jack’s.
CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0276 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CADILLAC JACK’S TRADING POST
Where: 1001 Fifth St. in Calhan
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 347-2000. Cadillac Jack’s will close Oct. 1 and reopen April 1.
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