By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Nov 25, 2002 at 5:21 AM

"Give me a time machine and I'll go back tomorrow," says 32-year-old Jim Dutcher, referring to the mid-1940s to the early 1960s.

At this point in history, it's a Tuesday afternoon in the year 2002, but Dutcher sports a "pompador with a duck's ass" haircut and listens to Bill Haley while minding the Tip-Top Atomic Shop, located in Bay View at 2343 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Dutcher and his wife, Lisa, opened the vintage clothing and collectibles shop last September, and since then, have sold just about every kitschy-cool item you can dream, dream, dream of, from aluminum Christmas trees to poodle skirts to rocket-shaped ice crushers.

"Everything's for sale in here except the register," says Dutcher, who first got into the retro rockabilly scene at age 14 after watching his parents' old movies and listening to their record albums. "Then I started wearing the clothing, and from there, it just spiraled out of control," he laughs.

Tip-Top offers some reproduced items -- like magnets, coasters and cocktail party books -- but mostly features original pieces purchased at estate sales, yard sales and from professional "pickers."


Some of the shop's funky finds are overflow from the Dutcher's South Side home. According to Jim, 95 percent of their house is decorated in full '50s fashion, including an original 1954 Philco Predicta television set and a half-completed tiki bar in the basement. "We try to hide the few things that are out-of-era," says Jim. "Like the stereo. It's in a closet."

Both of them, married for six years, are avid collectors. Jim has a weakness for pin-up girl calendars and Lisa harbors Holt Howard Pixie Ware, lucite purses and vintage clothing. Their interests may seem a little stereotypical, but that's how it was in the 1950s, and for the Dutchers, how it still is today.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.