Growing by the minute


The first thing you hear in Cameron Clock Co.’s new store are the seconds passing. At least 100 clocks are on display, all ticking in synch like cicadas on a summer night.

“A lot of people have never been in a clock shop,” said owner Paul C. Drake. “They come in here and are stunned.”

Cameron Clock Co. sells, consigns, repairs and restores new and antique specialty clocks. Stores like it are rare in this digital age – Drake said there are only four in the Vancouver-Portland metro area.

“The old-time clock makers are retiring,” he said. “Younger people don’t necessarily relate to clocks. They don’t wear watches because they have cell phones.”

But plenty of people still collect clocks, he said – enough that he has run Cameron Clock Co. full-time for the last year.

Drake began repairing clocks part-time in his Hazel Dell home in 2000 while running Organicare, a tree trimming business in Portland. He sold the 19-year-old business in 2006 to concentrate on clocks.

“It was just getting too busy,” Drake said of his clock work.

He was first drawn to the craft out of an interest in woodworking. Drake took his first clock repair course about 10 years ago at Portland Community College and continued the study part-time for three and half years.

“Then (my teacher) said, ‘There isn’t anything else I can teach you,’” Drake recalled.

He opened the storefront in early April after purchasing two retail spaces for $326,000 in Vancouver’s Uptown Village. Cameron Clock Co. occupies 900 square feet, and Drake hopes to lease an adjacent 500-square-foot space. Equity from the sale of his previous business helped finance the purchase. He hopes to pay off remodeling costs in a few months and see profits soon after.

Drake is the company’s sole employee, but he contracts with woodworkers and other craftsmen on restoration projects.

“If I got backlogged more than eight weeks, I would probably hire someone,” Drake said. He currently has a four-week backlog on repairs.

Drake hopes the store will become a destination for clock enthusiasts. It’s accessible to everyday shoppers, but targets serious buyers and collectors with prices from $100 to $4,000.

The world’s first clocks were made in Europe between 1200 and 1300, Drake said. Historic American clocks are the store’s most popular item, but it carries pieces from at least nine other countries including Germany, the Czech Republic, Korea and Scotland.

Cameron Clock Co.

Paul C. Drake, owner

210 E. 22nd St., Vancouver


Charity Thompson can be reached at

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