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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Retro Planet finds niche in 'kitsch'

Thursday, November 15, 2012

After working in the faster-than-lightning now-it's-new-now-it's-obsolete telecommunications business for 10 1/2 years, Mike O'Dell of McCook, Nebraska, not only "slowed down," but it seems he's gone backwards -- to a gentler, kinder, quieter time in American history -- to find his "niche" in "kitsch." O'Dell has opened a new store -- "Retro Planet" -- at 316 Norris Avenue in downtown McCook, Nebraska. His sales staff (after school) includes his 8-year-old daughter, Taylor, and his 13-year-old son, Cliff. Cliff is also the shop's assembly specialist, and is putting the finishing touches on a child-size sleigh.
(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Walk through the front door, and whose mugs do you see? James Dean ... Marilyn Monroe ... Betty Boop ... Audrey Hepburn ...

On the shelves, Crosley radios ... tin toys. Tricycles, scooters ...

They're not antiques. They're not all "reproductions" of antiques. The store's owner likes to refer to the merchandise in his new store -- "Retro Planet" -- as "assorted kitsch" with "retro styling."

Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette
Michael O'Dell's new store in the heart of downtown McCook -- at 316 Norris Avenue north of Longnecker Jewelry and Sehnert's Bakery, and "above" Ron Crowe's lower-level RC Specialties -- is a fun and feel-good step back in time, with a nod to today's technology.

Mike describes his store as a "retro gift and novelty boutique" and has his shelves stocked with brand names that stir up memories of early- and mid-century America -- Crosley radios and turntables, Morgan tricycles and scooters. The Crosley turntable is equipped with a USB port that allows a vinyl record to be transferred to a CD. The Morgan trikes have LED headlights. "They're not the actual antique, and they're not true reproductions," Mike said. "I like to call it 'retro-styling'."

However, some of the tin toys -- the race cars and the robots -- are true reproductions of actual antique and collectible tin toys, Mike said.

Mike's sales staff includes his 13-year-old son, Cliff, and his 8-year-old daughter, Taylor.

Cliff's favorite things in the store are all the Morgan ride-on toys; Taylor likes the sunglasses and the Anne Tainter line of magnets, purses and postcards.

Mike said he's enjoyed putting together the whole collection that also includes Johnny Austin neon lights and Adesso interior lights and small decorative furniture items.

"We have 20 suppliers, and the number is growing," Mike said.

"I can tell you that the customers' favorite has been the tin signs," Mike said, and with a wry smile, says, "The company goes to great lengths to make them look old and beat up, and then ships them with tissue paper between each one to protect them. How ironic ... "

Mike will rely on a background in retail as he makes the change, after 10 1/2 years, from the fast-moving telecommunications industry, to a main-street retail business. Mike said that when it came time to make a change, he decided "to make my own job" and created "Retro Planet."

Retro Planet will be open Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. (with expanded hours for the Christmas season).

The phone number is (308) 345-5445.

Check out Retro Planet on Facebook at facebook.com /retroplanetne

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