So Long, That’s Atomic

For the past five years, I have passed by the antique store That’s Atomic almost daily. Sometimes I would come home with an armful of early 60s fetish magazines or a pair of velvet Jesus paintings, like the ones that inspired this post in 2009.  Other times I would stand around and shoot the shit with proprietors Bill and Pam Garl, who, it turns out, have occupied their little spot on East Olive Way for twenty-seven years.  (They used to have the space next door, too, but condensed their wares into one storefront in 2007 when rents were raised.)

Bill and Pam Garl - That's Atomic

Bill and Pam Garl of Thats Atomic

Twenty-seven years in Seattle.  That’s Atomic predates Nirvana and Microsoft Windows. It is older than many of its neighborhood’s residents.

One day I stopped in to visit and Pam wasn’t smiling as brightly as usual.  She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was about to undergo chemotherapy.  Over the next several months, she had okay days and bad days.  A few times, I glanced inside as I passed and saw Bill working alone.  Once I went into the store and found a necklace I wanted buy, partly to try to cheer him up a little.  He had to call Pam to ask her how much it cost.  Lots of the stuff came and went without ever having a price tag.

The cancer is in remission. Pam’s hair is growing back and she looks healthy and beautiful.  For awhile, it really seemed like things were looking up.

But then early this year, the management company that owns the building that has housed That’s Atomic for the better part of three decades raised the rent again.  The Garls declined to renew their lease, and the space was rented almost immediately.  (Word on the street is that a marijuana dispensary is slated for the spot.)

I asked Bill what they were going to do next. “Dunno,” he chuckled.  “Maybe I’ll stand outside and sell cheaper weed.” *

Pam gave a more serious response.  She plans to try selling things on the Internet, something they’ve never done.  If we’re lucky, they’ll find another storefront somewhere and set up shop all over again.

That's Atomic

Closing sign in the window of Thats Atomic

Today is their last day of business.  I will miss them terribly, as the owners of one of my favorite neighborhood stores and as wonderful people who regularly brightened my days just by being there.  I am sorry I didn’t post something about their closing sale sooner, but they will probably be there until at least 7 p.m. and they probably still have some taxidermied frogs in hula skirts or a Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox that you can buy to remember them by.

Here’s one of my favorite things I ever got there:

macrame wall thing

70s macrame wall thing from Thats Atomic

Amazing, right?

So long, That’s Atomic.  For a long time, you embodied the very soul of what made Capitol Hill so special, and why everyone wants to live here and drive up rents in the first place.


*Bill was totally joking. He is not going to sell weed, cheaper or otherwise. DON’T WORRY, FEDS, NO ONE IN CAPITOL HILL ACTUALLY SELLS OR SMOKES WEED.

~ by emilypothast on April 14, 2011.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: