The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Life-long collector opens Cathlamet shop


September 20, 2018

Diana Zimmerman

One of Dee Syfert-Subramaniam's joys has been collecting. She decided to turn the hobby into a business, which also gives her a chance to interact with a community she has come to love.

A new shop, D's Art Antiques and Collectibles, opened on Main Street in Cathlamet last month.

It's full of treasures collected by Dee Syfert-Subramaniam, who bought property in Skamokawa a few years ago.

"I was into collecting for myself," she said. "I had an interest in antiques my whole life."

When she was a teenager, she and her siblings found what she described as a "really cool table" at a thrift store on a military base. The three of them worked together to strip it down and refinish it. It is a fond memory.

Her mother collected dolls, and though Syfert-Subramaniam was more of a self-described tomboy, she found herself collecting them too. As well as many other things.

"They say when you have three of something, it becomes a collection," she laughed. "I'd like to refine what I keep in terms of what I continue to buy and resell and keep the dolls to just the vintage. Right now I have more of a variety."

This is the first time she's had a shop, but she's been buying and selling vintage items for years online.

The bright side of having a shop?

"I can still enjoy looking at these things but this way, someone else can enjoy it," Syfert-Subramaniam said.

Syfert-Subramaniam was raised in upstate New York, but was encouraged by a friend to relocate to the Portland area for a job after working in the software industry in Pennsylvania for many years.

"My dad was in a place where he really needed care," she said. "He was retired military and we wanted a VA hospital close to me or my sister, but we could find nothing. My friend said one of the best VA hospitals in the country was here in Portland."

Her daughter was a senior in high school at the time, and Syfert-Subramaniam was hesitant to move. The same friend told her that the software company that wanted to hire her was funding a big computer lab for the local school.

"Where does that dream school exist?" her daughter asked.

It was all "head west" from there.

As one does when one moves to a new place, Syfert-Subramaniam explored the area. One day she and a friend were on one of their drives when she found a lovely place along the Columbia River that really stuck with her. The problem was, she couldn't remember where it was and she couldn't find it again.

Until finally, she did.

"I was out by myself on a drive," Syfert-Subramaniam said. "I had tried to find the place on and off. Maybe it was Sauvie Island, I would think. I happened to drive down Highway 4. For some reason I never took Highway 4. All the sudden I saw the post office and general store and I thought, that's the place!"

It was Skamokawa.

And it turned out that the Adam's net shed on Brooks Slough, which she had fallen in love with on her first visit, was for sale.

"I love the people here," Syfert-Subramaniam said. "A lot of people end up here in the same kind of bizarre, serendipitous way that I did. I love this area."

Along with the antiques and collectibles are some of Syfert-Subramaniam's own art work.

Diana Zimmerman

All kinds of treasures can be found in Syfert-Subramaniam's shop on Main Street in Cathlamet.

"When I was young, I showed some aptitude," she said. "I was one of those kids who actually loved school. I would take extra courses, but I didn't have time to take art during the normal school year. I would take summer school, just to take art classes."

Her mother paid for her to have lessons with a renowned portraitist, whose name she can no longer remember. And at a community center one night of the week, she would join a group of older local artists, sometimes with a live model, and they would chat and critique each other's work.

Her art was put on the back burner she said, but she continues with beadwork, which she sells in the shop, along with some of her photography and paintings.

The shop is currently open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Her number is listed on the window, and she invites people to call if the shop is closed and they would like to look inside.


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